Most wouldn’t think the home of Cheesy Gorditas, the Chalupa Supreme, and the 7-Layer Burrito is the healthier fast food option, but for Taco Bell, a health-conscious menu drives their brand. Throughout the past decade, the chain has continuously enhanced its menu with fresher, higher-quality ingredients and calorie-conscious, go-to meal options for its 40-plus million weekly customers.

The key ingredient to Taco Bell’s transformation has been its first dietitian, Missy Schaaphok, who joined the company’s general product development team in 2011. Soon after, she shifted her role in a new direction, overseeing its food nutrition, becoming Taco Bell’s in-house RD in 2012. Today, she heads Taco Bell’s Global Nutrition and Sustainability division.

“I had no idea what I was asking for or what that meant or what leading nutrition at a fast food company looked like, but I would say it’s been a very humbling experience, and I’m very excited where I’m at today,” Schaaphok told us. “My role has continued to evolve and change over time. I’m still in product development and work on the food innovation team, but now I have a team.”

Schaaphok now leads a team of three within the food innovation team, including a second dietitian that works closely with her in overseeing the menu’s nutritional content and sustainability.

Taco's Bell Dietician Missy Schaaphok
Taco Bell

Promoting its fresh and healthy ingredients and food processes for more than 14 years, the company even broke down its nutritional progress since 2005—from cage-free eggs, no antibiotics important to human medicine in chicken, the removal of additives, and more—in its Food for All Journey chart. Today’s Taco Bell is continuing its menu offerings with its 510-and-under calorie Power Menu; lighter, Fresco-style alternatives; and a more fully dedicated vegetarian menu to restaurants for the first time later this year.

Schaaphok gave us a look at what’s ahead for Taco Bell.