I know waiting till July may seem hard… BUT for all you lucky folks I have a sneak peak at Julius “The Chef” Jackson’s new cookbook My Modern Caribbean Kitchen that you can try at home today! In honor of Cinco De Mayo, I am sharing this delicious Caribbean & Mexican fusion recipe!
Let me start by explaining more why I am so excited for this book. Raised in Georgia, I was not introduced to Caribbean cooking till I moved to St Thomas. Food is my career, so I quickly began to explore the local food culture after arriving on island.
Cultural sensitivity is HUGE when is comes to making dietary habit changes. As a dietitian, I encourage my clients to embrace a healthy lifestyle while continuing to honor their cultural heritage and customs.
Therefore, I wanted to do more than tell my island clients to start eating green smoothies and quinoa bowls everyday. But in order to do that, I needed to understand the culture here and the foods people were already eating.
Well, I started trying local foods. However, when I attempted to dig deeper and look for recipes to analyze and improve the nutritional content, I hit a wall. When I asked for recipes, individuals were often protective or simply had never written one down; their grandmother had taught their mother who had taught them.
I hit another hurdle in the grocery store. The foods I was used to eating and cooking with at home where either impossible to find or extremely expensive. I needed to find new recipes that incorporated the foods available here on island.
Then I met Julius. He had exactly what I’d been looking for… a cookbook full of Caribbean inspired recipes with a modern twist!
Now, I need to take a minute to talk about how great of a guy Julius is….. not only is he a classically trained Chef, he’s a professional athlete and huge role model to the Virgin Islands community. Plus, he is THE NICEST person, who always has a smile on his face and makes whoever he is talking to feel like the most important person in the room.
A Virgin Island native, Julius gained fame through his professional boxing career, but it is his dedication to this community that truly makes him a hero to the islands. I feel honored to call him a friend and can not think of anyone more deserving of his success.
Stuffed with seventy versatile recipes for any occasion, My Modern Caribbean Kitchen is a fresh take on Island cuisine. Blending traditional recipes with Julius’ unique twists of flavor, this book is a must have in your kitchen! Check out the links below to pre-order your copy today!
Barnes and Noble
Now, Who’s ready to mix up some margaritas and get to the fiesta?!
This recipe I am sharing with you today is a favorite of mine! Growing up in the southeastern United States, Mexican food had a huge influence in my childhood. We make quesadilla’s all the time, and I am always looking for a new twist!
Even though my life revolves around food, I often don’t have time (or space) to cook. This recipe is easy and requires little prep which is perfect for my busy schedule and cramped kitchen.
Using mango in a quesadilla is something I would never have thought of but it’s so good! It gives a sweet and tangy taste that compliments well the salty and savory flavors from the rest of the ingredients. It’s a similar flavor profile to putting pineapple on pizza, which is admittedly a trend I have never gotten into… but maybe mango in quesadillas will be the next trendy food combination!
TIP! Check out this video for the proper technique to cut a mango!
Adding vegetables (and a little fruit in this case) into your quesadilla adds bulk without stacking up the calories. Choosing beans and lean meats, like chicken breast, for your protein over steak or pork reduces the saturated fat content. Beans additionally provide healthy fiber and other nutrients, such as magnesium, folate, and iron.
A great aspect of this recipe is you can modify it easily for many different dietary restrictions with a few simple swamps.
– Gluten-free: Replace flour tortillas with corn
– Lactose/dairy-free: Skip the cheese and add a little mashed avocado for creaminess and to hold the insides together
– Low Sodium: Leave out salt in seasoning, replace canned beans with dry beans, and go light on the cheese. Compare the nutrition labels between tortilla brands and choose the one with the least amount of sodium per serving.
– Vegetarians: Skip the chicken and add more beans.
-*Vegans: Go a step further and skip the cheese (add avocado) or substitute with a vegan cheese of your choice
Happy Cinco de Mayo y’all! I’ll be celebrating this year island style! I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do! Don’t forget to pick up your copy of My Modern Caribbean Kitchen coming to stores July 24th!
Caribbean Quesadilla from My Modern Caribbean Kitchen
There is nothing like biting into a sweet, juicy mango and having the juice run down your face. I am lucky to have mango trees growing in my backyard. This means mangoes have a way of working themselves onto my plate in numerous recipes. In these Caribbean quesadillas, mango provides a sweet and tangy twist. I've found this recipe pleases kids and grown-ups alike and might be a good way to sneak some healthy food into your children's meal. -Julius 'The Chef' Jackson
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 2 1/2 tbsp mixture of salt, freshly ground black pepper, and chili powder
- 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
- 10 (10″) flour tortillas
- 1 large mango, peeled, pitted, and diced
- 1 lb Mexican blend shredded cheese
Serving Size: 2 slices or half of one tortilla.
Nutritional Content per serving: 216 Calories. Total Fat 12g. Saturated Fat 6g. Carbohydrates 14g. Sugars 4g. Fiber 2g. Protein 14g. Sodium 398mg.
DirectionsSeason the chicken breast with the chili powder mixture. Grill the chicken breasts until fully cooked, then set aside to cool. Once the chicken breast is cool, dice into medium chunks and set aside.
Next, in a bowl mix together the black beans and peppers. Heat the oil in a flat-bottomed saute pan or griddle over medium heat. Place tortilla on the pan and add cheese to the surface of the tortilla. To one-half of the tortilla, ass the bean mixture, chicken, and mango. When the cheese is melted, fold the tortilla in half. Make sure both sides are browned. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and fillings. Cut each quesadilla into four slices and serve hot, 2 slices per serving.
**Note: This post is NOT sponsored. All opinions are my own.