Growing up, Leah Ives always enjoyed preparing food—especially after-school snacks. So now, while she cooks to fuel her work with the Trisha Brown Dance Company, she always wants it to be "free-form in a casual, no-pressure way," she says.
That means she preps and eats whatever her body calls for. "I've gone through phases of cleanses and diets," she says. "But that can take the pleasure out of eating. And it doesn't feel nourishing to me. Now, I listen to my body."
Leah Ives with Marc Crousillat. Photo by Stephanie Berger
What does her body crave? Often, it's simply eggs. "I look for eggs that are omega-enhanced, cage-free and from a small farm, preferably," she says. Preparing several hard-boiled eggs once a week keeps them in heavy rotation, whether she uses them for breakfast, snacks or on a salad with kale, nuts and cheese.
One favorite dish is an egg strata, a mixture of eggs, toppings and bread baked to perfection for easy transport. It provides a hefty protein punch, along with carbohydrates and veggies. Ives likes that it can be altered to any of her body's shifting needs. "Every day is going to be different," she says. "I pay attention to that."
Here's one version of Ives' egg strata recipe. Change up the fillings and their amounts to suit your preferences.
- 12 eggs
- 2 cups milk
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- basil and other herbs (to taste)
- dried-out bread, torn in pieces (enough to line the bottom of the pan)
- precooked chicken breast, torn in pieces
- feta cheese, in chunks
- cherry tomatoes, halved
- spinach, sautéed
- Spray the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray, then line the bottom with the bread.
- In a separate container, beat the eggs and milk, adding salt, pepper, basil and other herbs (or Dijon mustard) to your liking.
- Evenly place the feta, tomatoes, spinach and chicken on top of the bread.
- Pour the egg mixture over the fillings and bread. Some pieces might float up—push them down.
- Cover with Saran wrap and leave in the fridge overnight.
- In the morning, bake at 350° F for 45 minutes or until set.