Holiday Oatmeal Chocolate Pecan Pie

“Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.” -Ernestine Ulmer

Remember me? I know it’s been a while, and sometimes life happens like that. In 2018, I started my blog Ingredients, Inc. at the height of my food freelance career. At that time, I was doing recipe development for top food brands, food writing for top print magazines, national food television segments, nutrition counseling, speaking engagements and creating recipes for three international cookbooks.

This path gradually lead to travel freelance, projects, traveling the world for work, publishing Healthy Travel magazine, marketing jobs, social media jobs, content writing and much more. Then, one of my freelance clients offered me a job full time, and there you have it. My career completely shifted again.

Because I have missed working with food, recipes, photography and all of the amazing creative opportunities and people that come along with it, I am reintroducing Ingredients, Inc.

And what better time than now. Since Thanksgiving is next week, I am sharing one of my favorite Thanksgiving pie recipes: Holiday Oatmeal Chocolate Pecan Pie. It’s super easy, fantastic and is the perfect holiday dessert. You only need 15 minutes of hands-on time. Adding Oatmeal to this pie makes this recipe a little bit healthier and enhances the texture. Feel free to use dark chocolate chips instead of semisweet if you wish.

Trust me, you will love this Thanksgiving dessert (consider making two and freeze one or give it as a gift).  Have a great day and thank you for following! Alison

7 Health Benefits of Apples

Do apples make you skinny? That’s what I have heard from some time. Whether they do or not, apples are in abundance right now, and I love cooking and eating them. My daughter, Leigh, fractured her foot last week at dance (this is the 3rd fracture she has had in a year-ughhh). I told her yesterday, “Maybe you should start eating apples since they are good for bone health”, and it made me think of writing this post on the 7 Health Benefits of Eating Apples:

1. Apples make you feel full (or skinny?)-I heard that apples can make you skinny, but perhaps it’s the fiber in an apple that keeps you feeling full longer. There are about 95 calories in a medium-sized apple, and they take our bodies longer to digest since they are made with complex fiber. One component of an apple’s peel is something called ursolic acid, which was been linked to a lower risk of obesity in a recent study in mice. Also, applesauce is also a great healthy substitute for baked goods. Try substituting it for half of the butter and oil in many dessert pr baked recipes.

2. Apples can lower cholesterol- Apples are one of the top fruits with plenty of pectin, a soluble fiber that reduces cholesterol. Pectin prevents cholesterol from building up in the lining of blood vessel walls, thus reducing the risk of arteriosclerosis and heart disease.

3. Apples are a good memory booster- Apples have quercetin which may protect brain cells, help improve your memory and lower your chances of developing Alzheimer’s.

4. Apples help reduce blood sugar– The polyphenols in apples can influence the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates and help achieve normal glucose levels.

5. Apples have anti cancer benefits- Studies have showed that apples can also help protect against colon cancer from a chemical in apples. Another in 2007 also found additional compounds, called triterpenoids, which seem to fight against liver, colon, and breast cancers.

6. Apples can protect bones-Apples contain phloridzin that is said to increase bone density and boron that strengthens bones.

 7. Apples can help reduce and prevent Asthma– Studies link a higher intake of vitamin C with improved asthma. Another study, discovered adults and children who consumed apples or apple juice every day also reduced their risk of asthmatic attacks.
Also studies show that women who eat plenty of apples are less likely to have children with asthma.

No-Bake Dog Treats: For People Too

When Birmingham Magazine asked me for some dog treats for my monthly food column, I wasn’t sure what to do. Honestly, this is not my area of expertise. I contacted our wonderful veterinarian, Andy, and I asked him to name a couple of ingredients which I could use to develop a cookie that would be good for dogs. I created these No-Bake Dog Treats which are great for people too. These came out fabulous, and my dog, Latte, loved every one of them. Note: For overweight dogs, these should be a “splurge” snack.

My Top 4 Favorite Passover Desserts

I can’t believe Passover is right around the corner starting the evening of April 6th. I have had so many requests and emails about recipes I featured last year. Here are my top 3 favorite desserts. The first one is Passover Strawberry Bars (pictured above). All of these three Passover desserts are so easy to make, budget friendly, and they do not taste like your average Passover dessert. Trust me.

The Best Passover Brownies 

Classic Mandel Bread

No Bake Cookies

Quinoa Salad with Almonds, Cranberries and Mint

Quinoa is one of my favorite Super Foods of 2012. I talked a great deal about quinoa this weekend at my nutrition/healthy eating seminar including how to pronounce it, purchase it and cook it. I had a lot of wonderful questions regarding this gluten-free grain. One serving of quinoa provides all 8 essential amino acids, and it is high in protein and fiber. It’s also a wonderful grain for those on a gluten-free diet, and it works wonderful for breakfast, a side, in soups and salads. I recommend buying the rinsed version to make your life even easier. I developed this recipe for Quinoa Salad with Almonds, Cranberries and Mint for Thanksgiving for Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms Turkey. It makes a great side dish or salad, and my kids absolutely loved it. Add grilled chicken or shrimp if you wish for a main dish salad.

Halibut with Mango and Goat Cheese

Grilling in the summer is the norm at my house. Lately, I have really been trying to get my kids to eat more fish. This Halibut with Mango and Goat Cheese recipe is one of my newest favorite creations that they really liked (can you say no leftovers?).  The combination of maple syrup and Dijon mustard flavors the fish to perfection, and it goes great with the sweet and savory mango topping made with fresh mangos, parsley, lime juice and goat cheese. This makes a great weekend night family dinner or weekend idea for entertaining with friends. Serve with a tossed salad and grilled asparagus or grilled okra for a healthy summery meal in under 35 minutes.

10 Health Benefits of Blackberries

While at their peak season, indulge in blackberries for a nutritious snack or dessert. One cup of fresh blackberries has 62 calories, 1 gram of fat, 15 carbohydrates, 8 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein and only 1 mg of sodium. Here are the top 10 health benefits of eating blackberries:

1. Blackberries are one of the top ten foods containing antioxidants.

2. Blackberries are packed with polyphenols helping to prevent cancer and heart disease.

3. Blackberries are filled with anthocyanins (antioxidants which give blackberries their deep purple color) which help in memory retention and the risk of hypertension.

4. Blackberries are said to strengthen blood vessels, help fight heart disease and help improve eyesight.

5. The high tannin content of blackberries help tighten tissue, relieve intestinal inflammation, and help reduce hemorrhoids and stomach disorders.

6. Ohio State University found that blackberries may protect against esophageal cancer, a cancer caused by gastric reflux disease.

7. Blackberries have shown to protect against other types of cancers. They contain phytoestrogens (plant estrogens), a compound believed to play a vital role in preventing breast and cervical cancer.

8. Blackberries are high in Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Manganese and fiber.

9. The high fiber content of blackberries help reduce risk of intestinal disease and the risk of developing diabetes.

10. Blackberries are a healthy food choice that kids and adults love. They are a great way to refuel after a hard workout and help aid in fighting obesity. See a recipe for Blackberry-Blueberry Cobbler from my site last year.

Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches

For Fourth of July weekend, I wanted to share my recipe for Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches from my new cookbook “400 Best Sandwich Recipes: From Classics & Burgers to Wraps & Condiments”. I came up with this recipe last summer while I was working on this book. My three kids were in the kitchen helping me, so I tried to make it as simple as possible. It is perfect to serve this weekend if you are celebrating with friends and family, or anytime this summer. Use your favorite homemade chocolate recipe or store-bought cookie dough.

This recipe is from “400 Best Sandwich Recipes: From Classics & Burgers to Wraps & Condiments” 2011 by Robert Rose Inc. Reprinted with permission and photo credit by Colin Erricson.

Part 1 Marche Region of Italy: Filled with Infinite Beauty, Passion, Culture and Hospitality

If you had to decide which Italian landscape was the most typical, you’d have to choose the Marche…Italy, with its range of landscapes, is a distillation of the world; the Marche is a distillation of Italy”  G. Piovene, Viaggio in Italia  1957


Okay. I am back in the USA. I left some of you hanging, and I do appreciate all of the emails looking for my posts. Unfortunately, I was so busy touring the region all week that I had no time to write a blog post. So here goes. My trip was centered around touring and learning about the Marche Region of Italy with several other professional journalists from the U.S. The Marche region lies on the Eastern side of Italy between the Adriatic Sea and the high Apennine mountains.

We began in Milan to attend a press conference at the Four Seasons to hear about the exciting new tourism campaign on the Marche Region of Italy with President Gian Mario Spacca. They rolled out their tourism campaign featuring Dustin Hoffman as a spokesperson to promote tourism in the area. Here are some other looks at this spectacular region.

If you’re in Milan you must visit a breathtaking site, Cathedral Duomo. It took over 500 years to build, and it’s the fourth largest cathedral in Europe and second largest Catholic cathedral in the world. Here, you get a view of Milan. I took the steps to the top, of course.

There is so much more, so I thought I would take it one day at a time. Stay tuned…More to come….

Weekend Favorite: Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes

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My daughter, Leigh, loves to make pancakes, and we make saturday. These Blueberry Pancakes are delicious and are at the top of the list. They’re so easy and are as good as they look.