How to choose healthy dishes when enjoying this cuisine
Credit: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Caribbean flavors are actually those of Africa and Spain, with a bit of the tropics thrown in. Common ingredients include hot peppers, spicy meat rubs, seafood, tropical fruits (especially coconut and mango), and root vegetables.

Best bets:

Jerk chicken: Seasoned with hot peppers, onions, and spices, then smoked; often served with mango and/or other tropical fruits.

Stew peas and rice: Seasoned pork or beef and kidney beans served over rice; spinners (flour dumplings) are often added.

Escoveitch fish: Lightly pan-fried, then cooked in a marinade of onions, bell peppers, carrots, and vinegar; often served with rice, plantains, and tropical fruit chutney.

Surprise thumbs-down to:

Rice and beans: Not a plain mix of healthy basic ingredients, this dish often features coconut milk, which is high in saturated fat. Try our healthy version instead.

Tips for the savvy Caribbean diner:

Most callaloo (one-pot) dishes contain salt pork and coconut milk, so ask before ordering.

Beware of Scotch bonnet peppers -- they're some of the hottest known to man.