Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Actress, Elizabeth Higgins Clark Discusses Egg Freezing to Preserve Fertility

Over the last few months, I know I haven't written much about fertility or trying to conceive much, but, I am happy to break the ice with an interview I recently completed with actress Elizabeth Higgins Clark.  

Elizabeth Higgins Clark (EHC), just like I did last year, right before my 30th birthday had goals, and one of them was to take charge of her fertility by freezing her eggs.  Freezing ones' eggs gives a woman the best chance of having a baby when her life is ready and Elizabeth is a leading outspoken advocate to educate young women everywhere about the vast and important benefits of egg freezing in your twenties.

Read my interview with Elizabeth Higgins Clark to gain more insight into her reasons behind freezing her eggs, along with her options for the future since freezing them.

BATB: Since you stated that at 32, you are no longer able to donate eggs, what advice do you give to someone who has missed that mark?

EHC: The cut off to be an egg donor in the US is 32.  That doesn't mean that your eggs are "bad" at 32.  It just is indicative of which ages you're more likely to produce prime eggs.  I'm grateful to have come across that information while I was still in my 20's and hope that all women will be exposed to these facts and statistics while they still have time to explore all of their options.

BATB: There are people who think that preserving your eggs just to focus on your career is selfish. What do you have to say to people with that particular opinion?

EHC: I don't think there is anything selfish about how and when a woman chooses to become a mother.  Becoming a parent is the greatest commitment you can ever make.  Some people are ready to make it earlier than others.  But no way is "better" than others.

BATB: One of the reasons you stated you chose to freeze your eggs was because you didn't want to have to constantly administer injections or experience the soreness and pain associated with egg retrievals. There are women who are younger than you doing the same thing, except it isn't by choice, but because they’re infertile.  What would you tell those women? 

EHC: I didn't actually say that.  I said that given the choice I would prefer to only have to go thru [sic] the egg freezing process once.  It's uncomfortable and very expensive.  Many women undergo multiple rounds of freezing because if you start in your late 30's there is a greater chance you won't produce a large harvest.  You're much more likely to only need to do it once if you start at a younger age.

I know many women who have had to go thru [sic] many rounds of IVF and I greatly admire their strength and tenacity.   

BATB: I’m all too familiar with the mood swings fertility drugs put you through.  How do you manage?  What advice do you give someone to help get them through?

EHC: Well, I only went through it for a month.  And I must say my experience was pretty mild,  at least in my opinion. You'd have to ask my family and friends if I was particularly moody!
I think the best thing you can do is remember why you're doing all this.  We are undergoing these procedures because we want to be mothers.  And that can be very calming.

BATBAlthough your end result is having 16 eggs waiting for you, but, do you feel as though you should go home away with more, like a baby after going through everything from invasive doctor’s visits, injections, pain, etc.?

EHC: Nope.  I knew what I was getting into when I started.  And frankly, the reason I froze my eggs is because I'm not ready for a baby now.  So to go home with one wasn't my goal. 

BATB: You also stated you know that there is a chance the eggs you did freeze may not result in a successful pregnancy? If that does happen, how do you think you’ll feel about you decision then?

EHG: I'm sure I'd be quite upset about it.  But, as I've said before, I'm aware that is a possibility.  I made this decision with my eyes wide open. 

BATB: Let’s say you meet the man of your dreams within a year or two, and you decide to or accidentally get pregnant, what will happen with the 16 eggs you preserved? Will you consider donating your eggs?

EHC: If I ever get to a point where I no longer need the eggs, I would certainly consider donating them.  There are a lot of wonderful people in the world who want to be parents.  I think egg donation can be a great gift. 

BATB: How long are you planning on keeping your eggs frozen? At what age do you think you’ll be ready?

EHG: You know after I had gone thru [sic] the egg freezing process, I decided to give myself a full year off from thinking about when I will be ready.  I froze my eggs in May of 2014, so I still have a few more months left on that year.  So, I'm going to make good on that promise to myself and just say "I don't know yet."

BATB: I know I do not want to have children passed the age of 35.  I would like to offer my children my best self, as far as my health, and being [physically] active in their lives.  I know that passed that age, the idea of late nights and early mornings, or running around behind a toddler is already exhausting.

EHC: I must say that I don't think older mothers deprive their children of their "best selves".  I think women are capable of determining an appropriate time to have a baby.  Whether that be earlier or later, as long as a parent is present, really present…I think that's what determines good parenting.   

BATB: At what age would you consider using a surrogate, if at all, should your career take off later than expected?

EHC: Again, that would depend on where I'm at physically.  I wouldn't put a definite age on something like that.

BATB: Fertile/Infertile, what advice do you have for women thinking about freezing their eggs in hopes of having a child in the future?

EHC: Know your options.  Educate yourself. We do a pretty poor job of fertility education in this country.  Hopefully with time that will change.

Both Facebook and Apple recently announced plans to offer female employees elective egg freezing as a medical health benefit for women and this is a trend that Elizabeth would like to see more companies offer.

What do you think about Elizabeth Higgins Clark's choice to freeze her eggs in hopes of taking charge of her fertility? Would you do it?


Friday, February 20, 2015

Foodie Friday: Red Gold Redpack Tomatoes Celebrates Carnevale with festival-inspired recipes {Giveaway}

Redpack tomato products are a staple in our home.  I recently used their tomato sauce and paste to create chili, and prior to that, turkey lasagna. This week, I’m sharing with you recipes from Redpack’s version of Carnevale, a traditional winter festival held for centuries in Italy with parties and great food.

Win a Redpack branded apron
VisitL: https://www.facebook.com/redpacktomatoes  from now until March 3, during which 1,000 Redpack followers will get a Redpack branded apron each week (for a total of 3,000 aprons). A grand-prize winner will receive a pasta stockpot, pasta-related serve ware and Redpack products.

One lucky Beauty and the Bump reader will win a Redpack kit containing the following:

  • 1 28-oz can of Redpack crushed tomatoes
  • 1 28-oz can of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 28-oz can of diced, 1 6-oz can of tomato paste
  • Recipes
RedPack Tomato Giveaway


Preparation Time:
20 minutes
Cook Time:
1 hour
tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
small onion, chopped
garlic clove, minced
cup vegetable broth, or white wine
teaspoon red pepper
Salt and black pepper to taste
teaspoons balsamic vinegar
(8 ounce) tube refrigerator pizza crust, or crescent roll sheet
cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese blend
cup chopped assorted fresh vegetables, green pepper, onion, mushrooms and spinach leaves
Spicy Pizza Sauce - Makes 2 1/2 cups
  • Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and sauté until they are soft, about 4 minutes.  Add the garlic and wine; cook for an additional minute.
  • Stir in REDPACK® TOMATO PASTEREDPACK® PETITE DICED TOMATOES with GARLIC & OLIVE OIL, pepper flakes, salt and black pepper.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until thickened.  Stir in the vinegar; cool.
  • Freeze leftover pizza sauce for a future Pizza Braid or regular pizza.

Pizza Braid - Makes 1 braid
  • Preheat oven to 375o F.  Remove pizza dough from tube and place on sheet of parchment paper.  Roll dough into a 10” X 14” rectangle.  Place on baking sheet.
  • Spread ½ of cheese down the center third of the dough.  Top with 1 cup Spicy Pizza Sauce and 1 cup of shopped vegetables.  Top with remaining cheese.
  • Cut 1” crosswise strips down the sides of the rectangle.  Starting from one end, bring one of the dough strips across the filling diagonally.  Repeat on the other side, crisscrossing the dough strips.  Continue down the rest of the braid, alternating strips to form the loaf.  Brush with egg wash (one egg beaten with a pinch of salt).  Sprinkle with dehydrated onions or poppy seed.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Option:  Pepperoni or crumbled cooked sausage could be added when placing the vegetables.


Preparation Time:
30 minutes
Cook Time:
8 hour
cup red wine, +2 tablespoons
cup extra virgin olive oil
baby back ribs, beef neck bones or short ribs
cup chopped onion
cup chopped celery
carrot, minced
garlic cloves, minced
Salt and black pepper to taste
(6 ounce) cans Redpack® Tomato Paste
(28 ounce) cans Redpack® Whole Peeled Tomatoes In Juice, crushed with hands
(28 ounce) can Redpack® Tomato Sauce
quart water
tablespoons dried basil
tablespoons dried oregano
cup chopped fresh parsley
pound Italian sausage, cooked and drained, or meatballs

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place 1 cup red wine, oil, beef neck bones, onion, celery, carrots, garlic, salt and black pepper in a roasting pan; stir to coat.
  • Roast neck bones and vegetable mixture in oven until vegetables are tender, 1 hour.  Stir in about 2 tablespoons red wine while scraping any brown bits of food off the bottom of the pan.  Roast until vegetables are browned, about 30 minutes.
  • Pour vegetable mixture into a 16-quart stock pot over medium-low heat; simmer for 30 minutes.  Add REDPACK® TOMATO PASTE,REDPACK® WHOLE PEELED TOMATOES in JUICEREDPACK® TOMATO SAUCE, water, basil, oregano and parsley; stir well.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce reduces, 4 to 6 hours.
  • Remove neck bones from sauce; scrape marrow out of bones.  Add marrow to sauce and simmer until dissolved, 1 to 2 hours.
  • Add choice of meat to sauce during the last ½ hour of cooking.
  • For a smooth sauce, blend in batches until smooth.  Add Italian sausage or other meat to sauce after blending.
  • Option: Cook pasta, a pound pasta in ½ gallon water, just until al dente.  After sauce has cooked add ¼ cup pasta water and al dente pasta.  Cook until pasta is completely cooked.  This allows the pasta and sauce to combine their flavors for an exceptional tasting meal.

About Redpack Tomatoes
Redpack tomatoes are grown in the Midwest, where true seasons positively impact flavor — with just the right angle of the sun, perfect temperature, and soil that seems made for growing tomatoes

Friday, February 13, 2015

Foodie Friday: Three Bean and Corn Chili Recipe

The East Coast has been getting smacked with harsh cold weather and snow.  Have you seen Boston?  I feel bad for everyone there, and they’re about to get more snow over the weekend.  Due to this cold weather, I’ve been creating hearty, warming meals like this chili I made the other day.  It was delicious.  After sharing the photo of the chili on Instagram, and having people request the recipe, I decided it to share it with the readers of Beauty and the Bump.

FYI: This time I used lean ground beef in my chili. We normally use ground turkey, but when I bought the meat during the last snowstorm, the only thing left was this lone pack of ground beef. 

I like making chili because it’s an easy one-pot meal, and it lasts.  I can get through mid-week without having to cook anything else. Plus, chili is filling.  Add some shredded cheddar, fresh cilantro, and a dollop of 0% Total Greek Yogurt, and you’re good to go!

2 tbs vegetable oil
4 lbs ground beef
1 medium yellow onion chopped
1 green bell pepper chopped
2 jalapeños (seeded) chopped
¼ cup cilantro stems chopped
2 tbs minced garlic
3 tbs chili powder
1 tbs ground cumin
1 ½ tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/ tsp chipotle chili powder (more if you like heat)
2 tsp of Emeril’s Southwest Seasoning (recipe below)
1 bay leaf
2 (28 oz) cans whole crushed tomatoes
2 tbs tomato paste.
1 tbs Kosher salt
24 oz Chicken Stock
1 (15 oz) can each of the following beans drained and rinsed:
Red Kidney Beans
Black beans
White Beans
1 can of corn

Southwest Seasoning Recipe
2 tbs chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tbs paprika
1 tsp black pepper
1 tbs ground coriander
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbs garlic powder
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tbs salt
1 tbs dried oregano
Combine all ingredients thoroughly. Makes ½ cup

Chili Directions

1. Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over high heat.
2. Add vegetables: onions, garlic, green pepper, jalapeños, cilantro stems, and cook until softened.
3. Add all of the dry seasonings: chocolate, chili powder, cumin, Southwest Essence, cayenne, cinnamon, crushed red pepper, bay leaf, and the tomato paste, and cook, stirring often, until the bottom of the pan browns.
4. Add ground beef, and let brown.
5. Add chicken (or beef) stock and tomatoes. Stir, and then bring it to a boil.
6. Reduce to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 1 hour, stirring occasionally to prevent the chili from sticking to the bottom of the pot. 
7. Skim off as much fat as possible. Add the beans, return to a simmer, cover, and cook until thickened, about 1 1/2 hours longer.

Serve with the cheese, green onions, and cilantro alongside as garnish.

What are your favorite meals to cook in order to stay warm during cold weather?