Welcome to Olive Tomato

If you want to be inspired to lead a happier, healthier lifestyle and learn more about the Real Mediterranean Diet and are looking for tried and trusted information, you’re at the right place. OliveTomato the most credible and trusted source for the Mediterranean Diet. Join me as I present the nutritional value of the Mediterranean Diet, provide recipes, guidance, cooking tips, the latest news and research, and easy ways to incorporate Greek and Mediterranean diet to your lifestyle.

WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT FROM ME THAT YOU WON’T GET FROM OTHER “MEDITERRANEAN DIET EXPERTS”

The Mediterranean diet was virtually unknown in the U.S. a few decades ago and today it has become one of the most popular diets worldwide. Mediterranean diet experts and books are popping up everywhere with many descriptions and recipes that resembled very little to the food my mother, aunts and grandmothers cooked in Greece. There was and is plenty of misinformation about the diet.

Don’t settle for generic advice, get the information about the Mediterranean Diet from those who know.

As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with 20 years experience, writer and mother of two, living in Greece for the past 15 years, I have more than just a professional interest in the Mediterranean Diet, its preservation and promotion. As a Greek, I have been following the Mediterranean Diet my whole life, and have firsthand experience. However, having spent half my life in the U.S., I am proof that you can follow this diet from anywhere in the world.

With that in mind, I felt that it was time to clear up misconceptions and misunderstandings that have been circulating for years. Here I provide true, easy to follow information and make the diet relevant today and applicable to the modern way of life without sacrificing its true nature.

What you can expect from me is:

  • Authentic Greek and Mediterranean recipes, not westernized versions 
  • Mediterranean lifestyle advice based on lifelong experiences
  • Nutritionist approved recipes that follow the principles of the Mediterranean Diet
  • Credible and scientifically sound information about the Mediterranean diet 
  • Guidance on how to follow a real Mediterranean diet based on the prototype of the Mediterranean Diet

 

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING

“Thank you so much for making my family healthier! Thank you so much for making simple greek food so accessible! You are doing a truly important work by giving people the culinary tools they need to become healthier. You accompanied a profound change in my lifestyle and for this, you have all my gratitude. In a way, you have become a part of my family: when I talk about Elena, my wife knows it is you I am refering to.” -SL
“I adore your recipes and website. I have so many favorites… You have been such an important presence in my life since my family cholesterol gene kicked in two years ago and I delved into real Mediterranean cooking.” -C
“Thank you for your marvelous website. Using your basic advice, I have completely changed our way of eating at home. I find your approach so do-able..not heaps of complicated recipes just a sort of lifestyle template to follow.” -GD
“Our doctor suggested keeping it simple and to switch to a Mediterranean diet. He ended up having a triple heart bypass last August but his amazing recovery was due to the fact he had lost 60 pounds in the 8 months leading to his operation simply by following the Mediterranean diet and your manifesto which was placed on our fridge.” -KB
“I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your blog and how informative it has been for me. I have tried a lot of eating plans, but this is by far the best.  I have lost 25 pounds and never feel deprived.  It is also very easy to eat on this plan even if your are on a budget.” -CS

 

 

MY STORY

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. Thanks to mom, I basically was raised on the Mediterranean Diet even though we lived so far away from Greece, that was at the heart of this healthy way of eating.

As a child my life included yearly 3 month trips to Greece where I spent time with my grandparents, relatives and friends experiencing the Greek lifestyle and the Greek diet at it natural environment. When I was 11 I moved to Greece, and even then (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.

 

AND THE FORMAL RESUME

Elena Paravantes olive oil

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 20 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 is a former professor of nutrition at the American College of Greece and the Health Editor for Olive Oil Times. Elena provides consulting services on the

Presenting at the Mediterranean Roundtable in New York City

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 CNNPrevention, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, US News and World Report, Shape, Fitness, Parade, Chowhound, Salon, Oldways, Fox News, 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. She is the lead author of the chapter on Greek Culture for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics publication Cultural Competency for Nutrition Professionals

Elena has collaborated with a number of organizations including Loyola University, Yale University, University of Missouri, University, Louisiana State University, American College of Greece, Pierce College, Aramark, Mediterranean Diet Roundtable, American University of Madaba-Jordan, Celestyal Cruises, Lambraki Research Foundation.

Presenting at Yale University with Charalampos Economou, Debbie Humphriesand Tassos Kyriakides

An active member in the international nutrition community, Elena is a former 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 (CDR)

Based in Athens, Greece, Elena lives with her husband and her two sons.

To view her complete CV visit here.

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


Copyright Policy

© Olive Tomato and Elena Paravantes. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

154 Comments

  • Reply Mona B September 8, 2021 at 12:59 pm

    Hello Elena,
    What is your opinion about night shade vegetables? Though I enjoy tomatoes and love tomato sauce (esp. this summer since we’ve been growing them), I’m starting to feel a little arthritis in my hands again.
    It is said that nightshades can cause arthritis. Your diet includes so much tomato.
    Also, since discovering I have pancreatic cancer and just finished chemo, I should have a diet of low fats & sugar. Again, what is your opinion of following the Mediterranean diet in my situation. I purchased your new book yesterday over a Plant-based diet book which was a bit overwhelming. Please advise. Thanks,
    Mona

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN September 8, 2021 at 3:28 pm

      Hi Mona! Thank you for your message. First of all congratulations on finishing your chemo! I hope you are feeling better. Regarding the nightshade vegetables such as eggplant, okra, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes (in other words many common vegetables used in the Mediterranean diet) there has been no scientific evidence that they cause any inflammation, in fact quite the opposite: tomatoes and other vegetables are rich in fiber and antioxidants protecting from chronic disease and inflammation. However if a food is making you feel uncomfortable you can leave it out and see if your symptoms improve. Thank you for choosing my book, I should note that the Mediterranean diet is a plant based diet, meaning that it is mainly composed of plant foods, with exception of special occasions 85% of the recipes in the book are vegetarian. Regarding your diet, yes you should keep fat at a lower level as well as eating several small meals a day. Here is a resource you may find useful: https://letswinpc.org/managing-pancreatic-cancer/2018/05/17/eating-right-pancreatic-cancer-fight/

  • Reply Andrea August 3, 2021 at 12:38 pm

    Hi Elana,
    My family is from Sicily and many of your recipes are the same as what I grew up eating, but with different names! What can I substitute for walnuts and Feta. I am allergic to walnuts and although I love Feta I find the available Feta is saltier than that which we’ve had in Greece.
    Thank You
    Andrea

  • Reply Dr. Helen Robbins July 9, 2021 at 9:03 pm

    Hi Ms. Paravantes,

    I purchased so many other cookbooks for the Mediterranean Diet and honestly I had a hard time with all of them. I read them cover to cover–select recipes–but there was always something that was just not right in the outcome. I’m not a “beginner cook”– I love to cook but I found most recipes to be very cumbersome, time-consuming to prepare and the effort put into preparation and cooking did not produce a wow dish.

    I found your cookbook and I love it. I have always eaten healthy but your cookbook further fine-tuned my knowledge about eating healthier. You wrote your cookbook with a deep knowledge of Greek cooking, but in a common sense manner. I’ve made several of your recipes and have enjoyed every one of them.
    There are so many fine features–the Table of Contents is so well-organized and I love that you included serving sizes ranging from 1 to many; they are easy to convert to either larger or smaller servings. I do like to snack; the chapter on snacks and appetizers is a great addition.

    Thank you for writing such a wonderful resource to good eating and good health.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN July 11, 2021 at 9:54 am

      Dear Dr. Robbins, Thank you for your insights. Happy that my cookbook provided useful information about the Mediterranean diet and Greek cooking. I really appreciate your comments!

  • Reply Cindy July 1, 2021 at 11:23 am

    Can grains like freekeh and kamut be substituted in any of the recipes in your cookbook? If so, are there any particular recipes where they would work well?

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN July 1, 2021 at 12:27 pm

      Hi Cindy, You could use them in place of bulgur wheat and perhaps in the rice recipes, although it would have different flavor profile and you would need to adjust cooking times somewhat.

  • Reply Debra June 10, 2021 at 1:54 pm

    Hello Elena!

    I am so happy to have found your site. My family is from southern Italy. My Grandparents came to US when they were young. They lived in an area that both Italians and Greeks lived. My family always cooked like this, but as time went on, some things slipped aside as the older generation passed etc. I still managed to cook some things, but didn’t have any written down recipes from anyone, b/c you know it was never written down back then. But seeing these recipes makes me think of times eating with them and my Greek friends growing up. Thank you for sharing these recipes.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN June 14, 2021 at 6:18 am

      Thank you for sharing Debra! Wish our grandparents would write down things more often.

  • Reply June Aylsworth May 24, 2021 at 4:32 pm

    I love this book for beginners! Are you going to publish another book?

  • Reply Morgana May 11, 2021 at 4:20 pm

    Hi there! Exploring your blog, and I love your writing, both topic and style. I would love to see you date the articles you write. I began reading an article about the story you believed was misleading about starving children in Greece. I really struggled with trying to date this news, as I hadn’t heard anything so dire coming from Greece recently, and the article made no mention of Covi 19. I worked my way down to the comments to find that this story was probably originally posted about eight years ago. No less relevant, but not current by any means. Not what I would consider timely reading for me. It was a good post nonetheless, but I’d have likely passed it over and spent my time on something more current.

    I know many bloggers wish to keep their material timeless and current, but it’s really hard to put things in context and feel that the material is timely when it isn’t dated or otherwise time stamped.

    Thanks for great writing and content.

    Morgana

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN May 12, 2021 at 5:19 am

      Thank you for your comment Morgana. We are in the process of updating our time sensitive articles and posts.

  • Reply Helen May 6, 2021 at 12:59 pm

    I purchased The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook For Beginners and I have a question about one of the recipes. On page 89, Crustless Savory Zucchini and Feta Pie. It says to make the mixture of yogurt and flour, etc. but it never says what to do with it. Do you put the zucchini in with it and then spread it in the pan or spread it in the pan and put the zucchini over the top? Very confused.

    I like your cookbook, but I am allergic to tomatoes and wonder how to compensate for it. Any suggestions would be helpful.

    Thanks..

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN May 7, 2021 at 6:46 am

      Hi Helen! There is an error that is corrected in future printings of the book for that recipe. You mix everything together before placing it in the pan.

      Regarding the tomatoes, for the cooked recipes would you be able to tolerate tomato paste? It would provide the flavor,otherwise I would omit it. For fresh recipes, you could use red bell peppers, it is a different flavor but can be used to provide some texture and color.

  • Reply Karen April 10, 2021 at 3:46 pm

    I have been eating the Mediterranean way for 2 months I was under the impression that unprocessed foods was the Mediterranean way.
    looking in your cookbook I see regular pasta? I’m a little confused?
    thanks
    Karen

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN April 10, 2021 at 5:40 pm

      Hi Karen, Yes, the Mediterranean diet is a plant heavy diet that is not based on highly processed foods, so mostly vegetables, olive oil, beans, fruit, some fish, some chicken and less often red meat. Pasta and bread is also part of the Mediterranean diet. Fresh homemade pasta is what was traditionally consumed, but today not everybody can make fresh pasta. In Italy pasta is consumed in a small amount as a first course, while in Greece, pasta is not consumed everyday but more like once a week. Authentic Mediterranean recipes have always used regular (not highly processed) flour but not whole grain for pasta.
      You can also find more information here: https://www.olivetomato.com/med-diet-101/

  • Reply Diane Salzman April 9, 2021 at 2:35 pm

    I read the article about the teas and found it very informative. However, the teas listed in the first section are all unavailable at the links provided. All the other teas discussed have the same benefits. How do I pick one?! Are they all equal in the benefits or some better than others?
    Thanks,
    Diane

  • Reply Jeanne April 9, 2021 at 2:13 am

    Hi Elena, I have been using your cookbook, which is a wonderful way to start the Mediterranean diet. I had bought a previous book that did not use real Greek recipes. It used a lot of low fat products. I wanted traditional meals with little to no processed food. Your book was just that and the recipes are easy and delicious. I am trying to continue planning my meals using recipes on your website. The recipes in your book tell me the size of each portion and the calories in each. I cannot find that with the recipes on your website. I am trying to maintain the daily calorie count as in your diet book.
    P.S. loved the article on Greek Teas.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN April 9, 2021 at 4:55 pm

      Thank you Jeanne. Happy you are enjoying the recipes! We are working on adding nutrition information on the site as well.

  • Reply Allison February 23, 2021 at 5:16 pm

    Fantastic! That opens up a lot more options. Thanks so much for the quick response. 🙂

  • Reply Leah February 22, 2021 at 4:40 pm

    Hi Elena! My mother-in-law and I are having a delicious time cooking through your MD for Beginners cookbook! I have a question about the chickpeas with sun-dried tomato and spinach. While the chickpeas are simmering, should the pot be covered?

    Thank you!!

  • Reply Mary H January 22, 2021 at 3:07 am

    Hi Elena, I have just begun work toward embracing a Mediterranean diet. I have bought your book and am already seeing that I am part way there already! I have made my first recipe (Gigantes – loved it, my husband not so much. His challenge is decreasing meat.) and have a few questions regarding ingredients. I’m in rural northern Wisconsin and will not always have fresh herbs at hand. I have frozen a lot of parsley from my garden and basil in the form of pesto. What advice do you have regarding substituting dried herbs when fresh are not available? If I use canned beans rather than starting from dry, what is the conversion and what do I substitute if there is no bean water? I used 3 cups of canned butter beans for one cup of dry and I just used watered down crushed tomato for the bean water. Also I can usually only get cow’s milk feta. Your thoughts would be most appreciated.

  • Reply Alice White January 20, 2021 at 8:00 pm

    Hi Elena
    After almost 4 years on Leto, I decided to switch to a Mediterranean lifestyle. I purchased your book and am really loving it so far. It’s a whole new mindset, but I believe a good decision. Thanks for your work and your recipes! I’ll look forward to following you.

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