My story starts off in a Chicago suburb, where my mom would spend hours on end in the kitchen cooking Greek and only Greek food. At school while the other kids had bologna and cheese sandwiches, we had pastichio (a Greek type of lasagna), she never made toll house chocolate chip cookies like my best friends mom, instead we had to eat melomakarona, Greek honey and walnut cookies. And when our mother did decide to cook an American recipe, she’d always manage to sneak in that ubiquitous “Greek element”, hamburger patties with a sprinkle of oregano and lemon, cookies with olive oil… you get the picture.
For a few years we moved to Greece, where I got to experience this diet in its natural environment. Even as recent as the 80’s, most Greeks were eating meals with seasonal produce, a little bit of meat and children were not eating junk food with the exception of an occasional ice cream in the summer. Returning back to the U.S. I started my studies in nutrition.
You can imagine my surprise when I moved to Greece 10 years later, and discovered that Greeks were snubbing Greek food, choosing Caesar’s Salad over Greek salad and brownies over baklava. Didn’t they know that the Greek-Mediterranean diet was the healthiest in the world?
Sadly, despite our forefather philosopher’s rants about enjoying everything “in good measure” and “nothing in excess”, today’s reports show that Greeks, Italians and other Mediterranean nations – those very cultures that instituted the Mediterranean Diet – are consuming more calories and more saturated fat than ever before. In fact, the latest statistics reveal a prevalence of obesity in Greece at 22.5%, with 35.2% of the population being overweight.
Surprised? I was.
As a Registered Dietitian, writer and mother of two, currently living in Greece, I took more than just a professional interest in the Mediterranean Diet, its preservation and promotion. As a Greek, I had a personal stake in it too. I felt that it was time to bring the Mediterranean Diet, back into the picture; clearing up prejudices and misunderstandings; making it relevant today and applicable to the modern way of life.
That said, I welcome you to Olive Tomato. If you want to learn more about the Mediterranean Diet and are looking for tried and trusted information, you’re at the right place. Join me as I talk about the nutritional value of the Greek Diet, cooking, news, research, Greek products, and easy ways to incorporate Greek and Mediterranean ingredients and recipes to your diet.
I invite you to try my tips and recipes, read the articles and stories, stay up to date on the science behind the Mediterranean Diet, and of course, leave comments and suggestions.
Elena Paravantes is an award winning Registered Dietitian, Nutritionist and Writer specializing in the Mediterranean Diet. She has been active in the field of food and nutrition for over 15 years as a clinical dietitian, food and nutrition consultant, writer, teacher and lecturer, both in the U.S. and in Greece. Elena firmly believes in the wide-ranging health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet and is committed to educating the public about the wholesome food plan she grew up with through her writing, teaching and lecturing.
Elena developed the Food and Nutrition sections for the Greek editions of Men’s Health and Prevention as Food & Nutrition Editor, establishing them with her work for over 8 years. She also planned, organized and implemented the food program for Starbucks Greece, as their first Food & Beverage Director, developing and incorporating Greek and U.S. food items into the brand’s menu. Elena is currently the Health Editor for Olive Oil Times, provides consulting services on the Greek/Mediterranean diet and food for companies, writes for several U.S. and Greek media outlets and blogs for Huffington Post. Her interviews and articles have been published in many publications including the American and British editions of Prevention, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Today’s Dietitian, Food and Nutrition Magazine and NPR. As well as Greek publications such as Vima, Eleftherotypia, Vimagazino, VimaGourmet, Athinorama, Iatronet and Madame Figaro.
An active member in the international nutrition community, Elena was recently elected President of the American Overseas Dietetic Association, and has been on the Board of Directors for over 4 years. She is the official representative of the American Dietetic Association in Greece. She is a member of the Hellenic Dietetic Associations, the Union of Nutritionists and Dietitians of Greece and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (former American Dietetic Association), The International Association of Culinary Professionals, Food and Culinary Professionals Practice group and Slow Food International. She has been awarded the Outstanding Dietitian of the Year award and Recognized Country Representative of the Year award by the American Overseas Dietetic Association. Elena is the former Greek delegate for the European Federation of the Association of Dietitians (EFAD), and Media Representative for the American Overseas Dietetic Association.
Elena earned her Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition and Dietetics and her Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Sciences in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is a Registered Dietitian by the U.S. Commission on Dietetic Registration (
Based in Athens, Greece, Elena lives with her French-American husband and her two sons.
To view her complete CV visit here.
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