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 20 minutes to prep and be around 700 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.

Homemade Pizza EXPRESS Version 1

I attempted to make my first homemade pizza for dinner today. It was made of mostly store bought pre-packaged ingredients like pre-made dough and sauce jar but I wanted to test the waters first and hit that #milestone that I was waiting for.

My #taste_score for this recipe is 8/10. It was OK but not what I expected from a home-made pizza. The main reason was that the pre-made dough was very bland (no surprise there). More minor details in the lessons learned section below. Nonetheless it was tasty for a first try.

#calories for this are around 1070 calories

#prep_time is 15 minutes

Here are the #ingredients:

  • Pillsbury's Best Pre-Made Pizza Dough (thin crust)
  • Classico Traditional Pizza Sauce
  • Non-Stick Grape-seed Oil Non-Stick Spray
  • Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • Quarter cup of Pizza Sauce
  • One Small Tomato
  • Canned Diced Olives
  • Turkey Pepperoni
  • Sliced Baby Bella Mushrooms
  • 2 White Pearl Onions
  • Quarter Green Pepper
  • Dried Oregano


Here is the #recipe:

  • Spray a 9'' round pan with non-stick spray
  • Spread the dough on the pizza pan
  • Add half a cup of classico pizza sauce on the dough
  • Add one cup of shredded mozzarella cheese over the sauce
  • Chop 2 small pearl onions, quarter of a green pepper and half a small tomato and spread on the pizza
  • Add 15 slices of turkey pepperoni
  • Sprinkle Oregano on the pizza
  • Place the pan in the toaster oven (or regular oven) and let it bake on the pizza setting (or 400F) for 20 minutes
  • Serve and cut into 4 slices

#lessons learned for next time:

  • Use a real 12'' pizza pan instead of my 9'' regular pan (with no edges to make it easier to remove pizza after it's done and to have more room for toppings)
  • The dough was bland and didn't taste great! Gotta make my own dough next time
  • Shred my own mozzarella cheese next time, it will taste fresher
  • DO NOT use canned olives, they're disgusting
  • DO NOT use turkey pepperoni. It doesn't taste as good as it looks. Just stick with a veggie pizza next time.
  • I was about to skip the tomatoes as a topping on the pizza but I'm glad I didn't. They tasted great especially when mixed with oregano. More next time!
  • Put the cheese OVER the toppings next time. I think it will look better.

This is the process and result:


I watched this video about making your own tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes. In my previous cookings I have always bought pre-made sauces (which I ended up throwing half of away after not using all of it). This video has inspired me to make my own next time. It's just pureed tomatoes (in a blender), mixed with garlic, onion, basil and olive oil then simmered in a pan. It's funny I always thought it's complicated! #lesson

Maybe spaghetti and meatballs is a good recipe to exercise my new found skills. #plan

I also watched this clip about making your own pizza (including the dough!). This might be ambitious but I want to try it soon as well because I love pizza! This is the recipe from the video that I will try (although for the sauce I will use the one from the sauce video above). #plan

Baked Pasta, Beef and Cheese Version 1

My new baked pasta, beef and cheese recipe is one of my new favorite dishes! #milestone

My #taste_score for this recipe is 10/10 and it is #version_1 great! It is officially my favorite easy recipe and the first recipe to receive a 10/10 from me!

#calories for this are around 700 calories

#prep_time is 25 minutes

Here are the #ingredients:

  • Quarter pounds of 93% grass fed ground beef
  • 2 oz of pasta (slightly overfilled half a cup)
  • 2 oz of fresh mozzarella cheese
  • Quarter cup of Pizza Sauce
  • One small tomato
  • Half a cup of mushrooms
  • One small shallot
  • Quarter cup of chopped green pepper
  • Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, Chilli Flakes, and Oregano
  • Olive oil

Here is the #recipe:

  • Add a half cup of pasta into 2 cups of boiling water for 9 minutes (stir once to break them apart)
  • Shred the mozzarella cheese
  • Chop the shallot, tomatoes, green pepper and mushrooms and set aside
  • Add a half tablespoon of olive oil to a hot pan
  • Add a quarter cup of pizza sauce to the oil and add the chopped vegetables in
  • Season with salt, pepper, chili flakes, garlic powder and oregano
  • Stir fry for a couple of minutes then add the quarter pound of ground beef
  • Add another half a tablespoon of olive oil to the beef and season with salt and pepper
  • Brown the beef and mix it with the vegetables until the beef is broken apart
  • Lower the heat to medium low and let it simmer for a minute or two until the beef is brown
  • Turn off the heat and mix the pasta and beef sauce into a sauce pan then toss in an oven friendly pan
  • Add the shredded mozzarella to the mix then convection bake at 400F for 10 minutes
  • Serve in a plate then top with some oregano

#lessons learned for next time:

  • I might have to work on the presentation a bit more (it looked great in the oven but I had to break up the look as I was moving them from the pan to the plate). I'll have to think of something next time.
  • Use whole wheat pasta to ensure this recipe has enough fiber (since this is a journey for healthy, fast and easy meals)

This is the result:

Burger and Hashbrowns Version 3 (FROM SCRATCH)

This is #version_3 of my previous burger and hashbrowns dish. This time I did everything from scratch so no pre-packaged hashbrowns or pre-seasoned ground beef.

The best burger I have ever eaten (let alone made myself) #milestone. My #taste_score for this update is 9/10 (1.5 points higher than before!). I subtracted one point because the hashbrowns were not perfect but the burger definitely gets at least 9.5 for me. #version_3.

#prep_time was 30 minutes! Grating a potato for the first time took time, also separating an egg yolk made a bigger mess than anticipated. I hope that after doing this for 10 times it will take a maximum of 20 minutes otherwise I will probably dread cooking this in the future.

#cook_time 10 minutes

#calories is now around 650 calories

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

  • I made my own hashbrowns from Yukon gold potatoes and a southwest seasoning shaker.
  • I made the burger patty from 93% grass-fed ground beef and prepared the mix myself, like a real chef ;) I got the recipe from this Gordon Ramsay's video. It consists of mixing the ground beef with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, chili flakes and one egg yolk. Next I heated some olive oil in a pan and grilled the burger on each side (to crispen) for one minute with a quarter cup of mushrooms. Finally I moved the mix into the toaster oven and convection baked it for 8 minutes on 400F. The burger ended up tasting very juicy, tender, and flavorful!! Thanks Gordon haha!
  • To make the hashbrowns I followed this Gordon Ramsay's video. I made the hashbrowns myself by grating them on a cheese grater. Then I squeezed the water out as Gordon mentions this is important so that they will be crisp when cooked.  Then I proceeded by adding salt, pepper, southwest seasoning and some olive oil. Finally I fried it for 3 minutes on each side.

The #lesson I learned are mainly regarding the hashbrowns as the burger was perfect:

I washed the peeled Yukon gold potatoes before grating them. Huge mistake! They were soggy and quite a few stuck to my hand as I was handling them which was a waste. The resulting hashbrowns were crunchy from the outside but had a few pieces in the middle that were undercooked so next time I will let them cook for 4 minutes on each side instead.

There was a lot of smoke in the kitchen. I will try to be quicker and reduce the heat on the hashbrowns to see if that will help.

Here is the juicy result:



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:


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Thu Sep 06 2018 02:40:46 GMT+0000 (UTC)

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