Food truly is the future of medicine and, Melissa Lanz, the brains behind The Fresh 20, was recently in Melissa’s kitchen to show us how to enjoy a delicious life without sacrificing health or taste.
Lanz plans dinner (and breakfast, lunch and snacks) so you don’t have to. Lanz makes the connection between what you eat and how you feel in her wellness program. The Fresh 20, a platform created around whole ingredients, is a great vehicle to highlight all of the fantastic health benefits that Melissa’s Produce provides through their products.
What is The Fresh 20? You shop 20 whole ingredients in 20 minutes, and meal prep for one hour per week. The result? Stress-free weeknights when it comes to cooking for your family.
We caught up with Lanz after the kitchen event to ask her a few questions about The Fresh 20 and how it all works. Read the interview below for awesome recommendations on produce-worthy kitchen tools, plot your next tailgating recipe, and start building out your following grocery list with the help of The Fresh 20.
Interview With Melissa Lanz, Creator of The Fresh 20
Q: Your ethos for The Fresh 20 is so inspiring. Here at Melissa’s, we couldn’t agree more that food is the future of medicine. And we double down on the notion that one can enjoy a good life without sacrificing health or taste. What does a standard grocery list look like to live like this?
Melissa Lanz: Keeping the grocery list 70 percent fresh produce is the easiest way to increase health. Our shopping lists include a minimum of 10 vegetables a week for variety — picking seasonal ingredients is essential. And mixing up colors ensures that a good mix of nutrients will show up in your food. Every time we build a shopping list, we start with four or five main vegetables, two fruits, one spicy element (like poblanos or jalapenos), and two or three leafy greens.
A typical week would include:
- 3 yellow onions
- 8 carrots
- 4 fennel bulbs
- 6 vine cluster tomatoes
- 1 head red leaf lettuce
- 9 pears
- 3 zucchinis
- 3 lemons
- 1 head green cabbage
- 1 bell pepper
- 1 jalapeno
- 3 pounds winter squash (acorn, butternut)
- 1 small bunch cilantro
Luckily, for people practicing The Fresh 20, you already take the guesswork out of this task for them every week. Your website caters to a variety of different lifestyles; classic, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, kosher, for one, lunch, paleo and vegan!
Q: I love that you have a section for kitchen tools on your site. What kitchen tools do you especially recommend for produce?
ML: A citrus juicer is essential. A vegetable peeler and a small paring or serrated knife are also must-haves for preparing produce. And one good chef’s knife can enhance meal prep tremendously.
Q: The Fresh 20 seems to have it all figured out; 20 ingredients to make five weeknight meals. The result? Health and happiness. Can you talk about the process you went through that got you to those numbers?
ML: At first, it was just an idea to try to save as much on groceries as possible but then it became a formula. Like the old TV show “Name That Tune.” I kept experimenting and found I could consistently cook five dinners with 20 ingredients. Two to three proteins per week matched with 10 to 12 vegetables and a little dairy allowed me to keep it simple yet maintain variety week after week.
Q: We’re sad to see summer go, but we’re excited for all of the delicious new produce that comes with a season change. What seasonal fall produce items are you most excited about?
ML: I’m most excited about roasting vegetables. Summer is all about grilling and once fall arrives, I’m ready for my oven to start up again. Butternut squash, Brussels sprouts and pumpkin are all on frequent rotation. I roast a couple of sheet pans of vegetables each week so there are always quick and easy options for dinner and snacks. Take a look at my fall recipe roundup, or see below for my roasted vegetable recipe.
Q: I mentioned earlier that your site caters to a variety of different dietary lifestyles. Who do you lean on to educate you regarding the different dietary needs?
ML: We have an amazing team of registered dietitians who help craft our dietary guidelines, but we listen to our subscribers. Our subscribers are in the kitchen cooking at 6 p.m. and we want to find cooking solutions that fit their lifestyle needs — they come up with great shortcuts and suggestions.
Q: What’s a great resource for people wanting to find out more nutritional information for the recipes they create at home?
ML: There are a lot of recipe calculators online, but you have to be careful about getting accurate information.
Q: Halloween is right around the corner … any advice on how to navigate this sugar-filled celebration?
ML: Everything in moderation. One or two pieces on a holiday are not going to throw your diet off but it’s important to set limits so we don’t get into the habit of binging for every special occasion. We recycle Halloween candy in sandwich bags to take to the movies. It helps to make a plan to not just leave it on the counter as a sugar free-for-all.
Q: Fall also means we’re in full swing of tailgating. What’s your go-to appetizer during football season?
ML: I love buffalo wings. You can customize almost any comfort food to align with health. I make mine without butter or frying in oil so I don’t feel guilty about putting them out at game time. Get the recipe here. I also love healthy style dips like our seven-layer Mediterranean dip. It’s great for a potluck.
Watch Melissa Lanz in action in Melissa’s kitchen:
PERFECT MEAL PREP ROASTED VEGGIES
- 3 zucchini cut lengthwise into ½-inch thick slices
- 16 spears asparagus
- 2 red bell peppers cored and cut into long slices
- 2 yellow and orange bell pepper cored and cut into long slices
- 1 red onion sliced
- 8 ounces button mushrooms partial stem removed
- 1 head cauliflower cut into florets
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 6 cloves garlic grated or mashed to a paste
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 large Eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1–½ cups extra virgin olive oil
- Heat oven to 425 degrees.
- Arrange vegetables on parchment lined baking sheets (mushrooms & asparagus together)
- Toss vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper until well coated.
- Roast 25 to 30 minutes (mushroom/asparagus for 10-15 minutes only)
- Toss all periodically while roasting.
- Combine garlic, lemon juice and salt in a blender or food processor.
- Add eggs/yolks and blend until combined.
- Slowly add olive oil in a thin, steady stream.