Journey in Cooking HEALTHY, FAST and EASY Meals

Mohamad Ayyash ·

I want to learn how to cook simple and healthy dishes to aid me in living a healthier life. Dishes have to take LESS than 15 minutes to prep and be 500-600 calories. I will constantly perfect the same dishes as we go. Having a variety in my dinners ensures I stick to a nutrition plan forever.

Burger and Rosemary Baked Potatoes and Tomatoes Version 1

I've baked some potatoes, tomatoes and mushrooms for the first time! One of my favorite dishes so far! #milestone

My #taste_score for this recipe is 9/10 and it is #version_1 great! It is easily one of my favorite recipes that I will use more often! (See lessons section for what I'll do better next time)

#calories for this is around 600 calories

#prep_time is 10 minutes

#cook_time is 25 minutes

Here are the #ingredients:

  • One 230 g potato (with skin)
  • One medium sized tomato
  • Half a cup of mushrooms
  • Rosemary, Basil and Chives
  • Salt, Pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Quarter pounds of 92% ground beef
  • Shredded cabbage
  • One teaspoon of Avocado mayo
  • One tablespoon of ketchup
  • One teaspoon of spicy brown mustard

Here is the #recipe:

  • Slice potatoes, tomatoes and mushrooms in a non-stick oven container
  • Add a tablespoon of olive oil
  • Add salt, pepper, chives, basil, and rosemary
  • Mix everything
  • Convection bake at 400F for 15 minutes
  • After 15 minutes, remix ingredients and try to flip the ingredients
  • Convection bake for another 10 minutes and serve
  • Season the quarter pound of ground beef patty with salt pepper and a light drizzle of olive oil on each side. Smear the edges of the burger with the leftover seasonings so the entire patty is properly covered
  • Grill the patty on a 400 degrees pre-heated griddle (or grill) for 5 minutes 
  • Mix coleslaw with a teaspoon of avocado oil mayo and serve next to the patty with some ketchup and mustard

#lessons learned for next time:

  • I should cut the potatoes into cubes to ensure maximum seasoning coverage (half the size of what is pictured below)
  • Try cherry tomatoes next time for a better visual or chop the tomatoes into smaller wedges
  • I should add more mushrooms, they tasted great!
  • Add more chives or try adding garlic. I felt something was missing so this will be an ingredient that I will experiment with.
  • Do a better job at flipping the potatoes in the second round of baking (a few were slightly undercooked) 
  • The burger was overcooked (I think because I added some olive oil which speeded up the cooking). It caused a lot of smoke in the apartment but still tasted delicious. Instead of 5 minutes grilling I will do 4 minutes and see what happens.

This is the result (burger and coleslaw not pictured):


Burger and Hashbrowns Version 2

This is #version_2 of my previous burger and hashbrowns dish.

My #taste_score for this update is 7.5/10 (half a point higher than before) #version_2

The changes I did this time to the #recipe are:

  • I cooked the hashbrowns for 5 minutes on each side instead of 6
  • I used Kobe Beef patties instead of regular patties (mostly because I was curious about the taste but I won't use this next time because of it's higher fat content)
  • I cooked the burger for 6 minutes instead of 9
  • I ran out of cole slaw but will bring it back next time.

The #lesson I learned is:

  • The hashbrowns were a bit overcooked on one side. Next time I'll do 5 minutes on the first side and 4 minutes on the other.
  • The burger was still a bit overcooked (not as bad as last time). Next time I'll go for 4.5 minutes and see what happens (I like it medium but this one was as at least medium well).
  • I feel the recipe is missing something (?). I think I'm going to try some sautéed mushrooms and steak rather than a burger for a better flavor and see what happens. And maybe add a fried egg with a runny yolk. Basically "Steak and Eggs" which reminds me of the old days where I used to enjoy a big breakfast at iHops.
  • Skip the mustard.

Here is the result:


Nacho Tacos and Ground Beef Version 2

This is #version_2 of my previous nacho tacos and ground beef dish.

My #taste_score for this one is 9.5/10 (half a point higher than before) #version_2

The changes I did this time to the #recipe are:

  • I added some pickles and jalapenos
  • I finely chopped the tomatoes
  • I added a teaspoon of mayo to the shredded lettuce before adding to the sandwich (this added some flavor but also kept the lettuce from falling off the taco as I eat (or devour!) it)

The #lesson I learned is:

  • Maybe use 3 taco shells instead of 4 to maximize the ground beef coverage (Due to my nutrition plan, I try to strictly keep this dish at 550 calories with only a quarter pound of ground beef or turkey)

P.S. I was so excited and hungry to eat this that I forgot to take a picture! Now that this dish is super tasty I will probably re-cap the instructions and ingredients when I make version 3.

Rotini Pasta and Ground Beef Version 3

Finally I think I perfected my "Rotini Pasta and Ground Beef" dish #milestone

My #taste_score for this recipe is 9/10 (finally a dish that I made myself and actually like!). #version_3

#calories for this is around 550

#prep_time is 14 minutes

Here are the UPDATED #ingredients:

  • 2 oz of Rotini Pasta (half cup)
  • Half a cup of Spicy Red Pepper Classico salsa
  • Quarter pounds of 92% ground beef
  • Salt + Pepper + Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon of Olive oil
  • Quarter cup of sliced mushrooms


Here is the UPDATED #recipe:

  • Boil 2 cups of water in a saucepan. Add half a teaspoon of salt.
  • Add 2oz of Rotini Pasta (Slightly overfilled half cup as a measure)
  • Boil for 9 minutes then drain the water in a food strainer and place in a plate (medium-high heat)
  • Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a frying pan with half a cup of salsa and a quarter a cup of mushrooms (medium-high heat)
  • Add some salt and pepper and mix
  • After the ingredients are sizzling add a quarter cup of water (I like my pasta slightly watery so you can forgo this if you prefer a thick sauce). This also extends the cooking time of the mushrooms which takes longer than the beef to cook.
  • After the ingredients are sizzling again add the quarter pounds of ground beef and break the meat apart with a long cooking spoon
  • Add more salt and pepper
  • Add some Italian seasoning to the mix
  • Stir a bit until the ground beef is broken apart.
  • Wait for 3 minutes WITHOUT breaking the beef or stirring it anymore. Taste and add salt as needed. The ground beef should be dark and done at this point.
  • Pour both the pasta and the sauce in the saucepan and mix them well.
  • Let it set in a minute and then pour in a bowl and serve.

#lessons learned for next time:

  • I added too much Italian seasoning. Just a small dash should do the trick without overpowering the flavor.

This is the result:


Burger and Hashbrowns Version 1

I made some tasty burger and hashbrowns with a side of coleslaw for the first time! #milestone

My #taste_score for this recipe is 7/10 and it is #version_1 so not bad! (See lessons section for what I'll do better next time)

#calories for this is around 570 calories

#prep_time is 12 minutes

Here are the #ingredients:

  • Quarter pounds of 92% ground beef seasoned with a gourmet burger seasoning
  • 2 cups of Simply Potatoes southwestern style seasoned hash browns (uncooked)
  • Shredded cabbage
  • One teaspoon of Avocado mayo
  • One tablespoon of ketchup
  • One teaspoon of spicy brown mustard


Here is the #recipe:

  1. Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a frying pan (medium-high heat)
  2. Add 2 cups of the seasoned hashbrowns into the frying pan, press firmly with a spatula and heat on medium heat for 6 minutes
  3. After 6 minutes, drizzle the top with another teaspoon of olive oil and flip the hashbrowns, press firmly with spatula again and let it cook for another 6 minutes
  4. Season the quarter pound of ground beef and mold to burger patty shape
  5. Grill the patty on a 400 degrees pre-heated griddle (or grill) for 8 minutes 
  6. Mix coleslaw with a teaspoon of avocado oil mayo

#lessons learned for next time:

  • The hashbrowns were a bit overcooked, next time I will leave them for 5 minutes on each side instead of 6 minutes
  • The burger was WAY TOO overseasoned and salty so one teaspoon should be enough next time
  • The burger was WAY TOO DRY and overcooked. Instead of 8 minutes grilling I will leave it at 5 minutes and see what happens.
  • The burger stuck to the griddle and was dry from the outside which is perhaps due to the overcooking. I will instead spray a tiny bit of oven non-stick oil on the griddle and see what happens

This is the result:


Rotini Pasta and Ground Turkey Version 2

This is #version_2 of my previous turkey-pasta dish.

My #taste_score for this one was 7.5/10 (0.5 points more than before)

The changes I did this time to the #recipe are:

  • I used pizza sauce instead of Marinara sauce
  • After the cooking was over I mixed the pasta and the turkey in a bowl for a better visual appeal and a more evenly mixed mix
  • I added a dash of Italian seasoning (containing marjoram, thyme, rosemary, oregano and basil) to improve the flavor.


The #lesson I learned is:

  • The ground turkey in pizza sauce was very dry! I let it cook for 4 minutes but I think I need to add some water to the mix next time to avoid that.
  • I should add much more of the Italian seasoning! I tasted it in a few bites and it really lifted the flavor to a new level! I will add more next time and hopefully that will significantly improve the taste score.

Here is the result:


Turkey Tortilla Version 1

P.S. This is from yesterday's dinner but I didn't have a chance to update it.

I made some very delicious turkey tortilla for the first time! #milestone

My #taste_score for this recipe is 8/10 and it is #version_1 so not bad!

#calories for this is around 500

#prep_time is 10 minutes

Here are the #ingredients:

  • 2 x 8'' Soft Taco Style Tortillas (white bread)
  • Quarter pounds of taco seasoned ground turkey
  • Half a tomato
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Teaspoon of Avocado mayo (it's soy-free which is why I like it)


Here is the #recipe:

  1. Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a frying pan (medium-high heat)
  2. Add a quarter pounds of the pre-seasoned ground turkey and break the meat apart with a long cooking spoon
  3. Stir a bit until the ground turkey is broken apart
  4. Wait for 4 minutes and taste (add salt accordingly). The ground turkey should be dark at this point.
  5. Pour the ground turkey evenly in the 2 tortilla wraps
  6. Mix some shredded lettuce with a teaspoon of avocado mayo in bowl (kind of like cole-slaw)
  7. Add some finely chopped tomatoes and the lettuce-mayo mix to the tortillas
  8. Pre-heat the griddle (or small grill) at the panini setting (medium heat)
  9. Wrap the tortillas and place on the griddle for 1 minute

#lessons learned for next time:

  • In step 8 of the recipe I should have left the tortillas for 2 minutes instead of 1 to get semi-crunchy (will experiment with this next time)
  • Add jalapeños and pickles to the sandwich for a richer flavor

This is the result:


Rotini Pasta and Ground Turkey Version 1

Today I attempted the same Rotini Pasta dish I did before (see 09/05/2018 entry), but using ground Turkey instead of ground Beef.

#taste_score for this #version_1 was about 7/10 and I think it's mostly because of the over-seasoned and over-cooked ground turkey

The #lessons I learned today are:

  • Don't use Taco seasoned ground Turkey as it conflicts with the pasta sauce (too much!)
  • I over cooked and over dried the Turkey in the pan because I was afraid they might be raw. They cooked for 5 minutes on high heat. Next time I will go for 4 minutes and medium-high heat and see if that works better.
  • The Turkey and sauce turned out mushy and firm (not visually appealing!). I think it's because I kept stirring the ingredients to further break them apart. Next time I will stop the constant mixing as soon as they broke apart and let them sit uninterrupted for a longer time.
  • Need to be more consistent with seasonings (e.g. salt and pepper). Next time I will use half teaspoons and optimize the amount. This should make the dishes more consistent over time and removes the guess work from cooking this. I also think it makes replicating the recipe by someone else much easier.

Here is the result:


Nacho Tacos and Ground Beef Version 1

Today I made some delicious Tacos for the first time! #milestone

My #taste_score for this recipe is 9/10 and it is #version_1 so I'm proud of it!

#calories for this is around 500 (actually as per my nutrition plan in this journey my main dinner is usually 500 calories)

#prep_time is 10-15 minutes

Here are the #ingredients:

  • 4 Old El Paso taco shells (nacho cheese flavor)
  • 1 tablespoon El Paso Taco Seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons El Paso Taco Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of Olive oil
  • Quarter pounds of ground beef
  • Half a tomato
  • Shredded lettuce


Here is the #recipe:

  1. Microwave the taco shells for 30 seconds so they become crunchy
  2. Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a frying pan (medium-high heat)
  3. Add a quarter pounds of ground beef and break the meat apart with a long cooking spoon
  4. Add the taco seasoning to the mix
  5. Stir a bit until the ground beef is broken apart
  6. Wait for 4 minutes and taste (add salt and more seasoning accordingly, this is important at least the first time!). The ground beef should be dark at this point.
  7. Pour the ground beef evenly in the taco shells
  8. Add some taco sauce to each shell
  9. Add the finely chopped tomatoes and shredded lettuce on top

#lessons learned for next time:

  • Add jalapeños or something spicy!
  • Finely chop the tomatoes

This is the result:


Rotini Pasta and Ground Beef Version 2

I made some modifications to yesterday's dish but they didn't turn out as expected. #setback

My #taste_score for this updated recipe is 6/10 (worse than yesterday's). #version_2

Instead of "Barilla's Tomato and Basil" salsa I used a canned tomato paste with some water but the taste was kind of bland and the texture was too rough and visually unappealing. I've been using "Pizza sauce" in my egg white recipe and that tasted delicious and didn't make me bloat so I will try that next time for the pasta. #lesson

I also added some diced tomatoes + orange peppers + mushrooms. Didn't like the peppers I felt they overpowered the taste. Couldn't taste the diced tomatoes or mushrooms so will probably drop them as well next time. #lesson

I sprinkled some parmesan cheese on top but I will forgo it next time as well to avoid the extra calories with no noticeable taste difference. Also I prefer less ingredients to keep it simpler and faster to make next time. #lesson

This is the result: