Gardening season is officially in full swing and you know what that means, right? Fresh, delicious vine-ripened tomatoes hand-picked from your very own backyard. After putting all that hard work into growing your garden, you’ll certainly want to savor the fruits of your labor. Fresh tomatoes are perfect for salads, salsas, and sauces but why not try something new? Loubya bi Zayt, a Lebanese dish of green beans, onions, and tomatoes cooked in olive oil, is the perfect way to showcase your garden harvest. The tomato and olive oil combination is delightful and if stewed properly, results in a satisfyingly gelatinous texture. My father, whom I learned this recipe from, would cook the green beans with fresh finger peppers or jalapeños for a spicy kick. Since I have two little ones who eat with us, I don’t add any heat during the cooking of this dish but instead top my own plate with red pepper flakes for a nice kick. This dish is delicious on its own served with pita, green peppers, and sweet onions but it can also be treated as a side to a sizzling barbecued steak. In the past when my acid reflux was too much to handle, I would make basmati rice to serve alongside the green beans to break up the acidity of the tomatoes. Whichever way you serve this dish, you will not be disappointed. The best part? It’s super easy to make and requires just 3 main ingredients.
Lebanese Green Bean & Tomato Stew (Loubya Bi Zayt)
5 medium tomatoes, ripened
4 white onions, finely diced
2 pounds fresh green beans
2 tablespoons tomato paste diluted in 1 cup of water
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1/2 cup of olive oil, plus more
Salt and pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
- Clean and trim your green beans, cutting them into 1-2 inch pieces.
- Drizzle some olive oil in a large pot and sauté half of your finely diced onions until translucent and light brown. You can sauté all the onions at once to save time but the dish will be on the sweeter side no matter how much salt you add.
- While the onions are slowly caramelizing (careful not to burn), blend the ripened tomatoes in a blender with salt and pepper to taste. If you don’t want the tomato seeds or skin then strain before adding to the pot.
- To the pot, add in your green beans, garlic, and the rest of your onions and cook for 5-7minutes, stirring gently. You want the green beans to pick up flavor and color but make sure they don’t steam or they will taste rubbery.
- Finally, pour in the fresh tomato juice, diluted tomato paste, and 1/2 cup of olive oil and bring to a boil before turning the heat on low. Let it simmer uncovered on low heat for about 30-40 minutes until the green beans are tender and a thick gelatinous texture begins to form.
- Serve hot as the main dish or let it cool and serve as a side.
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Happy Monday friends! Our little hobbit just turned two years old last week (sobs) and we are getting ready to take potty training to the next level. I’ve struggled to write about this topic for a while now because 1) The first time I told someone I was potty training it felt like everything went south, and 2) It hasn’t been completely successful. I am, however, trying to look at the positives as we take the next step, so I wanted to share what has worked and what hasn’t.
We started potty training our son the week before he turned one. I was super determined (clearly) and our doctor had told us that some cultures were successful in training children by 15 months of age. I wanted to be that parent. And things, surprisingly, went very well from the beginning. We had used sign language with our son from a very early age and he had picked the signs up fairly quickly. The potty sign was no exception. It’s easy to start the association early on because babies don’t hide the fact that they’re going. So every time he would start turning red like a tomato or make pushing sounds, I would acknowledge the sounds he was making while signing for potty. After a few weeks, he was signaling to us whenever he needed to go. It was seriously the coolest thing ever until he started manipulating us and using the sign (and sound effects!) to try to get out of his highchair or nap time or anything really. Actually it was pretty hilarious but that’s beside the point. Anyways, the only problem was that his signing to go only covered pooping, which is where we are still at today. I think it’s just that peeing is so effortless, he doesn’t give it much thought or know how to make the distinction yet.
It certainly has been nice not needing to change poopy toddler diapers (with the exception of a few accidents) but now that we’ve been going to the potty for almost a year, I really want to get him fully trained in the next few weeks. I try not to be too hard on myself but I do put the blame on me for not having fully trained him. I think what he really needed (and still needs) is a few days in just underwear so that he can make the mistake of peeing and learn not to. I was unable to give him that opportunity when the fatigue started kicking in during my second pregnancy and it’s hard now that I’m juggling life with another baby. I’d have to be constantly on top of him so he doesn’t pee on any rugs and with a 8-month old in my arms, that’s difficult to do. All this is not to say that we didn’t have any success at all. Many people don’t start until 2 or 3 so I’m happy with where we are at now. There are some things, besides the signing, that I know have made this journey much easier so if you’re thinking about starting to potty train you might want to consider these things.
- Create a happy space. This is something we try to do everyday in our home but we very consciously made an effort to create a comfortable space he could feel was his. Even though it was just a small corner of the bathroom, it was his potty haven complete with his own colorful hand towel and bathroom mat
- Make it fun. This goes hand in hand with the making of the space. At first we would keep and rotate a few special toys in the bathroom. That way, he was always excited to go to the potty so he could play with those specific ones. We would also play DJ and let him listen to a song of choice, which basically turned into “Ants Go Marching” on repeat all day, everyday. When he turned 18-months, my mom got him an Elmo and Superhero Potty Book which we have kept in there as well. Now he enjoys going to the potty because he loves being read a story. We also had a special soap dispenser just for him and he enjoyed using it to wash his hands after a successful go. These small and simple touches have made for a smooth potty training experience for all of us.
- Give encouragement and rewards. Stickers can be your best friend. We definitely didn’t want to bribe our son with sweets or toys but we did want to give him recognition that he was doing an awesome job. The potty book he received came with a sticker chart and stickers that we hung up behind the bathroom door. Each time he would successfully tell us and go in his potty, he would get to put up a sticker on his chart. This somehow grew into sticker collecting and whenever we go out to Michaels or Target, we let him pick out his own stickers to put up. High-fives, hugs, clapping, and calling dada to share in excitement over another bowel movement are also wonderful gestures that have allowed us to express how proud of him we are.
We did make the switch from cloth diapers (little sis is using them now) to pull-ups several months ago so we are hoping there is an end in sight. He does and can pee in his potty but he just hasn’t gotten to the point where he tells us each and every time he needs to pee. As he gets older and his vocabulary expands, we are sure it will be a matter of time before it clicks. We made plans for this weekend to finally remove all the rugs in the living area and have him in underwear for an extended period of time. Our fingers are crossed and we could certainly use all the luck we can get 😉
Have you tried potty training before the age of 2? What tips and tricks worked for you? Let us know in the comments below. And as always..
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