Easy Cabbage Roll Casserole

Remember cabbage rolls? Lovely little packets of paprika spiced meat and rice, rolled into a cabbage leaf, and covered in cheese. What a perfect warming winter entree! The recipe I’m sharing with you this month is an easier (but still delicious) version. If you have the time and inclination to make the original version, please do channel your inner 50’s housewife, put on your best frilly apron, cue up a few Elvis or Buddy Holly songs on the stereo, and get to work. I myself lack the patience for this task, which is why I like this knock off version so much. Same flavor, less work. Dig it?

All told, this took me about 3 hours to make, but that includes time to cook the rice. You can do this step a day or two ahead (in fact, according to this book I just read by Giulia Enders, cooking, then cooling rice before you eat it adds to it’s nutritional value). For the cabbage, I tried both stir frying and steaming it, and had the best success (slightly charred, and still a little crunchy) with a quick stir fry over high heat. Smoked paprika, which adds an extra dimension, is my secret ingredient. If you don’t have this on hand, traditional paprika will do just fine.

I use bacon fat or butter for high heat cooking, and save my good olive oil for salads. If you’d like to know more about why I believe butter is a health food please contact me. I love nothing more that talking about, and sharing good food! You will need a sharp knife, two large pans, a casserole dish (I used an oval corning ware dish about 3 inches deep) and a rice cooker, or large pot with a lid. Try this recipe and let me know what you think.

Cabbage Roll Casserole


  • 4 Tbsp bacon fat or butter (plus a little more to grease the casserole)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb ground beef or ground bison
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups of brown rice, cooked
  • 1 large head of green cabbage, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese


  1. Heat 2 Tbsp fat in a deep skillet or large pot. Saute the onion over medium heat, just until softened (3-4 minutes), then add garlic and cook one minute more.
  2. Turn the heat up to high, add the ground beef to the onions and garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook until browned, breaking up any meat chunks with a spoon.
  3. Stir in spices, Worcestershire, sugar, and vinegar and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add diced tomatoes and tomato sauce and simmer for about 15 minutes (add a splash of water if it gets too thick).
  4. While the meat mixture is cooking, pre-heat the oven to 350, and generously grease your casserole dish.
  5. In a separate large, deep, skillet (or wok) heat 2 Tbsp of fat over medium high heat. Add cabbage, and salt and pepper, and saute, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes. You want it just wilted a bit, but still crunchy.
  6. Place half of the cabbage into the prepared casserole dish, and press down gently. Now spread half the meat mixture on the cabbage. Repeat cabbage, then meat.
  7. Wrap tightly with foil and bake for about 40 minutes.
  8. Remove the foil and sprinkle the cheese over the top. Bake for another 10 – 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and slightly browned. You can also turn on the broiler for a minute or two to brown the top, but watch it like a hawk so it doesn’t burn.

Pineapple Shrimp Curry Recipe

Looking for a light, slightly sweet curry? Try this shrimp and pineapple variation. Perfect for a hot summer day!


  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil, divided
  • 2 Tbsp green curry paste
  • 1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk, shaken
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 ¼ lb peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1 ½ cups chopped yellow onion
  • 1 ¼ cups chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 cups fresh pineapple chunks
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
  • 3 Tbsp thinly sliced scallions
  • 3 Tbsp chopped unsalted roasted peanuts
  • 2 cups of cooked rice


  1. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in medium saucepan on med-high heat. Add curry paste and cook, stirring constantly, for one minute. Add coconut milk, give it a good stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in lime juice, soy sauce, and fish sauce.
  2. In another large skillet (I used a wok) heat 1 Tbsp oil on high. Add shrimp. Cook until opaque, maybe 4-5 minutes (watch these babies, if you over cook them they will be tough). Remove shrimp to a plate and set aside.
  3. Add remaining 1 Tbsp oil to shrimp pan. Add onion and bell pepper and cook on med–high, stirring often, for about 2-3 minutes. Add curry/ coconut milk mixture to peppers and onions. Toss in shrimp, pineapple and half the cilantro cook for one minute more.
  4. Serve curry over rice with a garnish of scallions, peanuts and remaining cilantro.

Anne McCranie is a Portland (Sellwood), Oregon based Personal Trainer and Licensed Massage Therapist who loves to cook, eat, and share delicious food. This recipe is meant to tickle your taste buds. Please see your medical professional for specific dietary advice.

Balsamic Roasted Asparagus And Mushrooms

Looking for an Easter side dish? Try this quick and easy roasted veggie recipe!


Roasting the veggies in oil, then adding butter for the last few minutes of cooking adds a lovely, complex flavor. The trick to roasting vegetables is to make sure you wash and thoroughly DRY your veggies. I pat mine down with a kitchen towel. If your veggies are too wet they will steam and wilt instead of getting nice and brown. Also, make sure you use a rimmed baking sheet (like a cookie sheet) rather than a pan with tall sides.

I used maitake mushrooms, because I love them. However you could sub any hearty mushroom of your choice. Spring for a bottle of fancy, aged balsamic vinegar (go on – you are worth it!). I found this fig balsamic at New Seasons. The slightly sweet flavor compliments the rich earthy mushrooms. Try it and let me know what you think.

Balsamic Roasted Asparagus And Mushrooms


  • 1 lb. asparagus, trimmed, washed and dried
  • 8 oz maitake mushrooms
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • Aged balsamic vinegar (I used fig)
  • Handful of arugula or other sturdy salad greens


  1. Preheat oven to 450°. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Place asparagus and mushrooms in prepared pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Lovingly massage your veggies to make sure everybody has a nice coating of oil, then spread them out in a single layer (use two pans if necessary, no crowding!).
  3. Roast veggies in preheated oven until just charred and tender – about 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven, add butter and thyme leaves, toss to coat, pop them back in, and roast for another 5 minutes.
  5. Arrange greens and roasted veggies on a platter and drizzle with a generous splash of balsamic vinegar.

I made this into a couple of meals. First I put together a dinner salad with arugula, roasted veg, and grated Parmesan, paired with baked chicken and rice. Then for breakfast the next day, I made salad eggs (veggies mixed with scrambled eggs – see photo below). You could also serve your roasted veggies over mashed potatoes, or pasta.

Looking for more Easter veggie sides? Try these roasted radishes. This green soup makes a nice, light first course. And one more asparagus option – this quick and easy pesto.

Some notes: You may have noticed in the second photo up above that I used two separate cookie sheets. I wanted to make sure the asparagus and mushrooms were evenly cooked, but not burned. Next time I will cook them in the same pan, as they had similar cooking times, and plenty of room to be happy. The asparagus I bought were pretty big – I like mine pencil sized – so I sliced them lengthwise. I don’t think the size of the stems makes a difference in this recipe (and it added to my prep time) so I left that part out.

Who is this person to try to tell me what to eat??? Well I’m a Portland (Sellwood), Oregon based personal trainer and licensed massage therapist. I offer this recipe both to tickle your taste buds, and to bring you over to the dark side (a love of chicken skin and bacon, cooking with healthy fats, eating veggies with every meal, drinking wine when the day calls for it, eating for pleasure, not counting calories, sharing meals with friends and family…) Please see your medical professional for specific dietary advice.

Love this recipe, or my charming personality? Please let me know by shooting me a quick email, or sharing this with your friends.



Mini Key Lime Pies (Vegan, Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

Key lime pie is the official pie of Florida. No, really, as in a bill passed by the legislature in 2006.

mini key lime pies 1

Growing up in Florida I ate my fair share of key lime pie. My grandmother (AKA Nannie) made killer deserts and her key lime pie was to die for. My uncle Bob has a key lime tree in his yard. He would often come over to Nannie’s house with a bowl of limes and a hopeful look on his face and she would quickly turn the limes into a delicious pie.

For you non-Floridians real key lime pie is not bright green by the way, it is pale yellow. Key limes are small, about half the size of the Persian limes you find in the grocery store, with a more subtle flavor. If you can’t locate them “regular” limes will still make a yummy, if slightly less authentic pie. If you want to know the truth when I am out of fresh limes (or too lazy to squeeze) I use this brand of bottled key lime juice for pies, and when making margaritas.

“Traditional” key lime pie is made from sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, and lime juice baked into a graham cracker crust. It may be served plain or topped with a little whipped cream (but definitely NOT meringue for crying out loud!). This according to the gospel of Anne.

The origins of this delicacy are widely debated, but most key lime pie scholars point to sponge fishermen in the Florida keys in the late 1800’s. These fishermen, often out to sea for long periods without refrigeration, combined sweetened condensed milk, local key limes and eggs. The acid in the lime juice “cooked” the eggs (like seafood in ceviche) and the pie could sit out at room temperature without spoiling.

Recently I was invited to dinner with a friend who is on a restricted diet (no gluten or dairy) so I tried this recipe and it was a huge hit! I made two batches of mini pies, one with a traditional graham cracker crust, and one with shredded coconut. I preferred the coconut crust so I am including that recipe here. Switch out the butter in the crust for Earth Balance and your pie will be gluten free and dairy free. While not traditional, this recipe is the perfect not too sweet summer treat.

mini key lime pies 2

Frozen Key Lime Pie Minis:


  • 1 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted


  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup key lime juice plus 1 Tbsp lime zest
  • 1/2 cup agave


  1. Soak your cashews the night before (or if you are short on time pour hot water over them, let sit for an hour then drain and use).
  2. Heat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tins with baking cups. In a food processor blend coconut with melted butter. Press mixture into prepared tins. Bake for ten minutes or until golden brown. Set aside to cool.
  3. Add filling ingredients (reserving some of the lime zest for topping) to a blender and blend on high until smooth. This will take a couple of minutes. Taste and adjust for tartness/ sweetness (this recipe is not overly sweet so add a bit more agave for sweetness, or more lime juice to make it more tart).
  4. Pour filling into tins and tap on counter to release air bubbles. Top with the remaining lime zest and loosely cover with saran.
  5. Freeze for 2-4 hours or until firm. Remove from the freezer ten minutes before serving. Enjoy!


Anne McCranie is a Portland, (Sellwood) Oregon based Personal Trainer and Licensed Massage Therapist. Anne’s healthy diet includes natural whole foods, primarily veggies,  fruit and protein. Anne consumes full fat dairy including yogurt, grass fed butter (yes butter!) and coconut oil on a daily basis. She offers this recipe to tickle your taste buds. Please see your health care practitioner for specific dietary advice.

Gluten Free Ginger Apple Crisp

This week I went to my first Holiday party of the season and brought this apple crisp. It was easy to put together, and contains natural, healthy, easy to find ingredients (I found everything for this recipe at the Sellwood New Seasons).

Still have cranberries left over from Thanksgiving? Add them to this not too sweet apple crisp. Fresh cranberries (as opposed to dried berries with added sugars and dyes) provide a host of health benefits. Eating foods like berries that are loaded with Vitamins C, E and fiber may help lower blood pressure, reduce your chance of heart disease and stroke and help protect your gums. Plus they turn the apples in this dish a pretty pink color.

Apples are another nutritional powerhouse. Most of the antioxidants are found in the peel so choose fresh, local organic varieties when possible and leave the peels on for this recipe. Ginger contains powerful anti inflammatory properties, and has been shown to reduce arthritis pain, reduce nausea and boost the immune system – just what we need this time of year.

Try this recipe and let me know what you think…


Gluten Free Ginger Apple Crisp


Apple crisp 3 12.14


• 1 tablespoon organic unsalted cultured butter

• 6 large baking apples, thinly sliced
• 1⁄2 cup finely chopped fresh cranberries (I used a food processor to chop these)
• 4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• 1 tsp lemon zest
• 3 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 tablespoon organic cornstarch

• 1 cup oats (not instant)
• 1⁄2 cup demerara sugar
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
• 1⁄4 pound organic unsalted cultured butter, cold and cut into small cubes

Apple crisp 12.14


1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Generously grease a 9 x 13 baking dish with butter.
3. Toss the apples, cranberries, maple syrup, lemon juice, ginger, vanilla and cornstarch in a large bowl. Mix well.
5. Spread the fruit mixture into the buttered pan.
6. In a separate bowl, combine the topping ingredients.
7. Spread the topping on the fruit, making sure all the apples are covered.

Apple crisp 2 12.14

Bake until fruit is cooked through and topping is lightly browned, about 45 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Apple crisp 4 12.14

This is a great bake ahead dish. Prep and bake it off in the morning (or the night before). Warm it up in the oven while you are eating dinner and it will be hot and ready for dessert!


Anne McCranie is a Portland, Oregon based personal trainer and licensed massage therapist. She believes in whole, minimally processed foods, and butter! (yes butter is a health food) Anne is not a doctor or nutritionist. Please see your medical professional for specific dietary advice.