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.

161 Comments

  • 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.

  • Reply Julie January 19, 2021 at 7:55 pm

    Hi Elena,
    I was wondering what your advice is on preparing food beforehand and eating throughout the week? I saw that a few of your recipes and articles suggest not chopping the veggies beforehand so they do not lose nutrients. I sometimes do and so I was wondering. I’m also cooking a few recipes at a time so that we have nutritious food during the week and so was also wondering your thoughts in reheating? Thank you so much! I’m loving the book, the 21 day challenge and your site!

  • Reply Steve January 18, 2021 at 7:49 pm

    My wife and I want to start moving toward a healthier lifestyle, especially for our heart health. Looking forward to trying your recipes and tips. Can you tell me the best place to start as your website content is extensive.

    Thanks

  • Reply Sheila January 15, 2021 at 9:34 pm

    Can you say why tomatoes are always included in meals – what is so healthy about this fruit !
    Thanks

  • Reply Kimberley Ducato January 13, 2021 at 8:53 pm

    Hi Elena! I am so excited I stumbled onto your website. I had been looking into the Mediterranean Diet on Pinterest to start because my grandparents were from Sicily, but passed away when I was young so I thought getting back into this sort of cooking would help bring our family back to our roots. I ordered your cookbook and received it yesterday! I wanted to know, and I may just have to do a bit more reading in your book but, you mention a slice of bread accompanies most vegetable meals… is there a certain type of bread? Just learning as I go but wanna make sure I get as close to authentic as I can! Thank you!

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN January 14, 2021 at 7:22 am

      Hi Kimberly! Happy you are enjoying the book! I love Sicily and Sicilian cuisine! Bread was mainly either sourdough (whole grain preferably or barley (rusks).

  • Reply Graziela January 12, 2021 at 1:44 am

    Is the salt content listed in the nutrition info for the recipes in the Beginners Cookbook?

  • Reply Anita Nusser January 10, 2021 at 5:52 am

    I’m researching the Mediterranean Diet because my husband’s liver specialist recommended it, and tonight I came across your site, Elena. I definitely see the health benefits and would love to follow your site to get started. However, I need your professional, expert advice before I proceed. You see, my husband has twice become septic and developed liver abscesses, is possibly insulin resistant, his kidneys were compromised in his first experience with sepsis (on a ventilator for 7 days because all systems were shutting down), and because he’s also had severe kidney stone problems he was put on a low oxalate diet. This final problem is my source of confusion and concern. The Mediterranean Diet seems contradictory to his low oxalate diet because many of the foods, especially fruits and vegetables, used in the Mediterranean Diet are high in oxalate. How do I reconcile the two diets!? I’m very confused and frustrated in my desire to help him eat healthy for both organ needs. I hope to hear your response and thank you in advance!

  • Reply Tina January 7, 2021 at 5:26 pm

    I am 49 of french and italian heritage, I love to cook, eat and feed my family but we often fall into the same old meals that are high in meat and low in veggies, veggies most often being a salad. I would love to incorporate more of this way of eating into our lives. Does your cookbook have a detailed shopping list? looking through the recipes, not gonna lie, had to look up what a rusk was. I am eager to join in on the challenge but a trip the the grocery store is in order first.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN January 7, 2021 at 7:51 pm

      Hi Tina!
      It has a chapter dedicated to shopping, detailing each food group and what you should buy from each group.

  • Reply Vicki January 6, 2021 at 4:56 pm

    Hi Elena,
    I would like to join the 21 day challenge…where do I find the link?

  • Reply Debbie January 5, 2021 at 9:36 pm

    I am about to order your Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for beginners. My cardiologist speaks very strongly to his patients about following the mediterranean diet.. I am also following your 21 day challenge. Unfortunately I won’t be able to start it until Jan 6 or 7th so I can make a trip to grocery store to buy what I will need. I am excited to get started.

  • Reply Barbara January 2, 2021 at 8:41 pm

    I’m just wondering why you say to not eat the Greek Green Beans while hot. I’m sure willing to try it, but am just curios:)

  • Reply Janice Smith December 29, 2020 at 6:06 pm

    I am wanting to do the Mediterranean diet and receive your recipes,advise and wisdom.

  • Reply Jodie September 13, 2020 at 6:07 pm

    SO, I’ve been a member of a MD group for beginners for maybe a couple of weeks now, maybe a bit longer. I quickly found your site and LOVE it. I’m trying to follow a MD as authentically as I can. It drives me nuts how members of the group are always saying this is okay to eat/use. Like avocado oil, coconut oil, coconut milk, coffee creamers…..etc. Or how their photos of plated food can be predominantly rice, meat and very little veggies and they get applauded for it. You get the idea.

    I posted how much I adored your Greek Style Green Beans. Someone replied with, “How can the Green Bean recipe be okay – it has Sugar as an ingredient!! So much for Olive Tomato!”.

    I replied, actually with a laugh, that it was 1 tsp. It could easily be left out. I didn’t think sugar was a banned ingredient in a proper MD, it’s just not a featured ingredient. Perhaps I’m wrong but we were only talking about ONE TEASPOON here. I was scolded for my ‘lol’ and it turned into a big conversation with the resident, self-appointed MD “expert” chiming in. She said, “Olive Tomato is a great resource. But it is not Med written in stone. She doe’s have a modern influence.” The original commenter went on to say more, very proud of herself that SHE was right! Ah ha! Your recipe is NOT MD compliant! She KNEW it! And then cast aspersions upon these “trusted, go-to sites”.

    Frankly, I took offense. I said you must be effectively defrauding everyone then because your website claims to teach a real MD! I also asked if sugar has never, ever been used in the past or currently, in a true Mediterranean Diet? Because I’d really like to know if that’s the case. I also asked her (the “expert”) what her qualifications were, for her to be the one who’s correct and for you to be wrong? She told me to chill and not be upset. I didn’t need to, lol, and I wasn’t. I was genuinely curious about her stance on sugar. The original commenter also mentioned how things ALWAYS turned so nasty too! That wasn’t very in keeping with the Mediterranean behaviour either!

    WHERE was the nasty? lol

    The resident “expert” never really explained if sugar was an absolute NO, even in such a tiny increment, other than to say there are “foods to be avoided if you wanted to stay healthy”, “many will play to a mass market” and “no one really needs sugar in beans”. She did tell me, however, that she represents more the southern Italian side of a MD and even they have CHANGED some things! That must make her less than authentic as well. I definitely called her out on implying you were bending to the wants of a mass market, thus not staying true to your roots………sigh……I left the group after that conversation was deleted. She clearly didn’t want to justify her remarks. I don’t like being essentially silenced. I think other members should’ve had the opportunity to see it and weigh in if they wanted. I’d seen it with other topics.

    Groups always, eventually just make me love my recluse lifestyle, lol. No people. No drama. Peace. I’m glad I can still visit your website and not be bothered, lol. I trust you! 🙂

    I’m making your Greek Style Peas today! Can hardly wait to try them!

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN September 14, 2020 at 5:30 am

      Hi Jodie, Thank you for sharing this! This is exactly the reason why I started this site, to clear up all the misconceptions about this way of eating. Unfortunately, there are so many so called “experts” out there. So regarding sugar, of course it was consumed in the traditional Mediterranean diet, but it was a luxury item, which meant sweets and desserts were a special occasion food/dish. As for the green bean recipe, it is a traditional Greek recipe that goes back at least 70 years. A pinch of sugar is added to bring out the flavor of the green beans. Thank you for your support and trust! The unfortunate part is that many of these individuals are unknowingly not following a Mediterranean diet and as a result are not getting the health benefits either.

  • Reply Peter Flory August 19, 2020 at 4:17 pm

    can you please tell me, what the leaves are on top of the greek salad on this page?
    https://www.olivetomato.com/our-greece/

    Thank you

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN August 20, 2020 at 9:59 am

      It is called kritamo in Greek, and they grow near the sea and in between cliffs and they are pickled here. In english it is called rock samphire or sea fennel.

      • Reply Peter Flory August 22, 2020 at 8:53 am

        thank you so much. I’ve just come back from Crete where I had this on top of Fava, including capers.So I mistakingly thought this was part of the capers.
        I doubt I’ll get kritamo here (Germany9, but will try and find it.

        • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN August 22, 2020 at 9:14 am

          Peter, since it is pickled it is available for order online. I’ve seen some UK online shops. Search for “pickled kritamo”

  • Reply Kostantina July 10, 2020 at 5:43 am

    Elena, found your website after reading Mediterranean Diet book.
    I have many medical problems and am finding your recipes are helping me . Finally someone who actually cares, it is refreshing and gratifying. Wish we could meet for jaffa, I think talking with you would be a world of good for me. Keep your delicious recipes coming.

  • Reply Sheryl July 6, 2020 at 11:23 pm

    Hello I was searching for true mediterranian food , I love greek food feta goat and sheep cheese, I am lactose intolerant as is my son, I raised him on goats milk after he was weaned from the breast. My cholestron genetic s just kicked in and I thought I would try the mediterranian diet/ way of eating.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN July 7, 2020 at 6:30 am

      Welcome Sherryl. You can try Greek yogurt and cheese which is better tolerated.

  • Reply Samantha Christie April 10, 2020 at 10:20 pm

    Hi Elena. Just wanted to let you know I’ve been using the recipes on your website for about 5 years, they make up a big part of the food I eat and make for friends and family. I’m half Greek and your site has helped me learn how to make the cuisine properly. Thank you so much.

  • Reply Barbara Ierace January 18, 2020 at 5:41 am

    I prefer using olive oil to butter for biscuits and cakes

  • Reply Judy Finchum November 9, 2019 at 2:37 pm

    I really want to buy a book if available. Please let me know?

  • Reply 15 Foods Nutritionists Try to Eat Every Day - RECIPES | COOKING, FOOD... November 8, 2019 at 8:10 pm

    […] in the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet is a daily addition to registered dietitians’ meals. Elena Paravantes Hargitt, RDN, is one of them. “Apart from being a good source of monounsaturated fats, extra virgin olive […]

  • Reply Ashley L Cohen October 2, 2019 at 8:51 pm

    Hi,

    I love your website and cook your recipes very often. I have a question about olive oil. I have heard it is best to use straight olive oil for high heat cooking and extra virgin olive oil for low heat and salads. other say to use extra virgin for everything. What do you think?

    Thank you

  • Reply Narda Page September 25, 2019 at 8:46 am

    Elena, don’t you have a book coming out soon? If so could you please let us know the name?
    Thanks in advance

  • Reply Ailsa September 23, 2019 at 6:08 pm

    Hi Elena I am eager to get started and try some of your recipes! What white beans do you use (I can’t seem to find just ‘white beans’)? Many thanks

  • Reply Trish August 24, 2019 at 3:17 am

    Can’t wait to start this diet

  • Reply Ava Radtke July 29, 2019 at 12:16 am

    I would love to read your blogs. Try your recipes. And especially get any news reports to keep me up to date

  • Reply Sue Allwright June 4, 2019 at 9:33 am

    My husband and I started holidaying in Greece in 1984 just after we married and fell in love with the food, and I’ve since tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to cook similar dishes. when we got home using various Mediterranean cook books. It was never even slightly the same. Having now made a decision, aged 55, to transition to a predominantly (but not entirely) plant-based diet, I have only just discovered your website and I’m so delighted to find recipes for the lovely, healthy dishes I’ve not previously been able to create at home. I’m so pleased to discover how many are vegan ( although I will be including some feta!) and also gluten free, as I am also Coeliac. Many thanks for such a helpful website and the huge range of recipes for real Greek food. I love to cook and feed others so very excited!

  • Reply Stacy J Hobgood June 2, 2019 at 5:32 pm

    I have a question
    When you say olive oil
    Do you mean regular or extra virgin?
    And any suggestions on what is a good
    Brand and where to purchase that brand for the good benefit of the olive oil.
    Thank you
    Stacy

  • Reply Sandi Range May 29, 2019 at 4:42 pm

    I would love to read/learn more about the Mediterranean style of eating!

  • Reply Richard May 28, 2019 at 7:34 pm

    I grew up in a community in Western Nebraska that had a large and thriving Greek population. They were celebrated every year with a “Greek” picnic that was both a reunion with people from all over the nation coming back home, and as a fund raiser for the Greek Orthodox Church. The event was famous for their roast lamb. I would like to see some lamb dishes!

    I love your site, keep it going!

  • Reply lagatta à Montréal May 9, 2019 at 12:34 pm

    I was so pleased to see your choice of salads as spring comes at long last to Montréal after a particularly long and icy winter. Do you happen to have any salads incorporating tinned sardines? A Greek grocery chain here, Supermarché PA, often has small sardines on promo; my favourite are the lightly-smoked ones. I’ve made many of your recipes; all have turned out well and of course are also very healthful.

    I’m already on your mailing list.

  • Reply Susan April 29, 2019 at 8:14 am

    I would love to try your recipes.

  • Reply Cathy April 26, 2019 at 9:13 pm

    What a wonderful blog to read. I have already started the change to eating following your guidelines. I do have a question. How much feta would you consume when eating only lentils or vegetable dish. It always says serve with bread and feta but never as to how much. Can you have rusks instead of bread. I have a sensitivity to wheat so can’t eat a lot of bread. I have made quite a few recipes and thoroughly enjoy them.
    Thank you. I have already noticed a difference between eating and exercising and feeling much better.

  • Reply Pat O'Neil Green April 26, 2019 at 1:16 pm

    Your blog is inspirational. Thank you.

  • Reply Laurie April 2, 2019 at 3:06 am

    Your Ted Talk inspired me to learn more!

  • Reply Sherry Wright March 12, 2019 at 10:01 pm

    I’m just in the beginning stages of working the Med diet and feel quite fortunate to have some expert assistance so early on. Hope I can find your site again. (I’m very tech unsavvy).

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN March 13, 2019 at 6:08 am

      Thanks Sherry! You may choose to subscribe if you wish. That way you can receive a notification in your email.

  • Reply Hanne March 12, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    What joy to discover a gorgeous blog like yours. I will visit often now that I have found you. I too spent summers in Greece although my parents were not Greek but wandering ex-patriots. Your photography and recipes are vibrant and healthy. I cant wait to try them. Thank you -Hanne

  • Reply Delaney February 20, 2019 at 3:50 pm

    Hello from snowy eastern Washington State! Found your site while researching ways to transition my family from ketogenic eating. We’ve been doing it for 2 years but something in the back of my head started telling me we need to switch. Anything is a big change from all the butter, bacon, and cream cheese. But I’m hoping my family is receptive to it. Thankfully my kids already love veggies. I’m excited to try recipes from here. Great blog site! Thank you!

  • Reply Alexis DiPietro January 13, 2019 at 3:47 am

    Hi Elena,
    My teenage son has type 1 diabetes and is traveling later this month with his school in Brooklyn, NY to Athens and Crete. We are trying to put together a list of typical foods he’ll encounter with their carbohydrate counts (for example pita bread is approximately 40 grams of carbs) to help him count carbs while experiencing Greece and its wonderful cuisine. Any information or resources you could provide us with would be so greatly appreciated!
    Thank you,
    Alexis DiPietro

  • Reply Mandy January 2, 2019 at 2:49 am

    Please add me to your distribution list! Very excited to have found this website!

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN January 5, 2019 at 9:44 am

      Hi Mandy, Have you used the subscription form? Let me know if you need assistance.

  • Reply Mary Kyriakides November 4, 2018 at 11:51 pm

    I love your recipes and detailed instructions. Have you written any cookbooks? I hope the answer is yes, because I would love to buy one.

  • Reply The Authentic Mediterranean Diet Meal Plan and Menu October 10, 2018 at 6:55 am

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  • Reply Paul Kachudas September 15, 2018 at 1:05 am

    Elena. My Greek name is Apostolos Katsoudas from Ahladocambos. I have heard of the Paravantes when I was a child st forgio. Are we related you think?

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  • Reply Cynthia Anderson December 7, 2017 at 10:46 pm

    I made the Lentil fakes for supper tonight! Wonderful!

  • Reply Amanda August 11, 2017 at 4:33 pm

    Hi! We are in Seattle. I am half-Greek and went in search of some recipes that my step-mother would make when I was in Greece visiting my family there. One of my comfort meals is the Fasolakia Lathera. Your recipe is perfect. We have been eating your recipes mainly every night for the past few weeks. I am so glad I stumbled upon this blog.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN August 16, 2017 at 10:06 am

      Thank you Amanda! I’m so glad you are enjoying (and using) the site!

  • Reply Laura Zanetis Post August 3, 2017 at 3:26 am

    I found this site while looking up the nutritional information on feta cheese. I am having to watch my salt intake and my triglycerides. This site is wonderful!!! So glad I found it. And I’m glad you stick to the PDO on Greek feta. Over the years, I have struggled to find good feta in the U.S.. I mistakenly got a French “feta” which wasn’t feta at all. I have finally found a brand that is from Greece. Before, I would order it online.
    One thing I am struggling with – if I put it in water or as my Yia Yia did – in scalded milk – the feta smells like it has yeast growing in it. I have been storing it in a salt water I make myself – and the directions were to try to match the saltiness of the brine to the salt in the feta – but I am trying to lower my salt intake, so storing it in water would be better. Any suggestions for making it last longer (a month would be nice), in water or milk? Thanks!! LOVE this web site!!!

    • Reply Amanda August 11, 2017 at 4:35 pm

      I am curious about this, too. My feta does not last more than a week and I think I remember my dad rinsing it and doing something with it – not just leaving it in the brine, and it lasted longer, but when I do that it tastes weird.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN August 16, 2017 at 10:12 am

      Thank you Laura! Feta would be rinsed in water if it was too salty. Now in regards to preservation you need the water to contain salt. Brine is usually made by adding about 80 grams of salt to one liter of water. Feta should be ok for 6 months in brine.

  • Reply Rogan Craig July 20, 2017 at 7:45 am

    Hi Elena,
    I was told about your site by a Greek friend I have known for about 50 years, but I cannot find a subscriber’s option except for this one. Please add me to your mailing list. I have followed what I call an English diet, mixed with a bit of an Afrikaans diet, and I want to have a healthier diet.
    Thank you,

    Rogan Craig

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN July 20, 2017 at 8:39 am

      Thank you Rogan! If you go to the home page, you will see on the right (in the sidebar) a subscription box, just add your email and you will receive an email to confirm. If you are still having trouble just send me an email, and I’ll add you.

  • Reply Mimsy May 14, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    I just discovered your website and will do some recipes bi just had a double bypass and have been strongly encouraged to follow the Mediterranean diet. But I don’t see a sodium or carb breakdown. Do you have a book or available info?

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN May 17, 2017 at 4:55 am

      Hi Mimsy, No book yet. I have not added nutrition information at this time. However, almost all recipes involve adding salt as needed, so you can control a large percentage of the sodium that way.

  • Reply Averil March 13, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    Hi Elena,
    I love the site and all your recipes so far have been an absolute hit.

    I would love to learn how to make rusks (it is not an easy recipe to find online), they are not something I can easily find to buy either online or in the shops. Also would be extremely interested in learning more about Lent and fasting the traditional Greek way.

    Thank you so much for the wonderful resources that you provide. It is a privilege to have access to this quality information.

  • Reply Bianca December 2, 2016 at 9:57 am

    Hi Elana,

    I have love your recipes, they are so easy to do, tasty and healthy. Do you think you would ever do an e-book or cookbook with all your recipes in? It would be great to have a hard copy to cook from and I am sure it would sell really well.

  • Reply Jaio November 6, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    Qui se ressemble s’assemble say french people (Those who are similar they are well together:-) Thank you for sharing your recipes. It’s very well done with pictures and “lyrics”:-) Is time to remove bad habits and go back to natural food. I think that the ideal way to survive in the future will be to have a garden and to grow everything we can. GMOs are coming everywhere and big Pharma corruption will be difficult to avoid. Last year, European commission publish on the same day an astonishing declaration saying that Cinnamon can be dangerous and Aspartame is without danger!
    Greetings from an Italian in Spain:-)

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN November 19, 2016 at 7:30 am

      Thanks Jaio, Wish we could all have a garden and grow everything we need

  • Reply Renee Beam October 3, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    Hi Elena,
    We are about to wrap up our 6th season sailing around the Greek Islands. Your blog has become my go to reference for recipes. I would really like to know where I can get a copy of your Mediterranean Manifesto Poster for my kitchen in Auckland New Zealand. It is brilliant and I want to be reminded of our Greek practices every day. Thanks Renee

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN October 7, 2016 at 5:54 am

      Hi Renee,

      Thank you for sharing! We are in the process of getting the poster ready for ordering. I’ll be announcing soon.

  • Reply Jeff September 7, 2016 at 10:54 pm

    Do you have a cookbook and if so where can I get it. Thank you, Jeff.

  • Reply phillip vasels July 31, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    Hello Elena
    I too am a Greek from Chicago, which is life defining. I love your site and wisdom. στην Ελλάδα!

  • Reply Judy Matusky July 28, 2016 at 1:17 am

    Love your website! Stumbled upon it looking for a recipe for Dakos salad we had in Crete. I’m also a registered dietitian so I love your tips. I would like to link to your website via my cooking blog. I think my readers would find your information helpful.

  • Reply Ishkarah May 31, 2016 at 11:45 pm

    Hello Elena,
    Where might I find the “greek food pyramid” and a place to get started?
    Thanks
    Ishkarah

  • Reply Q&A with Elena Paravantes | WindyCity Greek February 16, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    […] Elena Paravantes is a Chicago-born Greek living in Athens. She is a dietitian and blogger at olivetomato.com, promoting healthy eating the Mediterranean way. She tells her story as a Greek-American living in Greece. […]

  • Reply Anne Niesenbaum December 31, 2015 at 12:31 am

    Your recipe for Briami says to make it in a pot, then describes baking it in a pan. Which do you recommend?

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN December 31, 2015 at 5:22 pm

      Hi Anne, In the post I mention that it can also be cooked in a pot but the recipe posted here is for roasted Briami as can be seen n the directions. Stewing in a pot requires a different technique.

  • Reply Christella Leventis December 21, 2015 at 5:25 am

    Hi Elena,
    I love all your recipes.. They are healthy and delicious..
    I was wondering if you have a recipe for greek cabbage rolls.. I know is a common dish around this time of the year.. I would love to make them for my family this year.
    Thanks,
    Christella

  • Reply Ioannis September 23, 2015 at 12:51 am

    Elena, you are championing Med Diet and in particular the Greek Diet and for this I personally thank you. Hopefully our new generation will embrace a healthy,tasty and well balanced culinary experience…Perhaps some Traditional Cretan recipe’s from you soon???

  • Reply Trine Ekenes August 7, 2015 at 8:33 am

    Is it free to subskribe???

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN August 7, 2015 at 8:47 am

      Hi Trine. Yes, it is free. Just add your email under subscribe. You will receive an email to confirm your subscription.

  • Reply Elena 43 Restaurant | Pizza Fans July 27, 2015 at 6:42 am

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  • Reply Recipe: Greek Style Peas-Arakas Latheros | tasting crete July 24, 2015 at 11:54 am

    […] this week i chose a recipe that is not only cooked in Crete but in the rest of Greece as well. Elena Paravantes makes a great dish with peas which is a product used in Greece since antiquity. There are findings […]

  • Reply Cathy July 6, 2015 at 10:30 am

    Trying to activate my subscription but it is not clickable.

  • Reply Nancy May 15, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    Hello, Do you have a recipe for a bean dish called Fasolia (not sure if I am spelling that correctly). It has beans, onions, tomatoes and spices. Thank you.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN May 16, 2015 at 9:26 am

      Hi Nancy,
      Yes, there are several bean recipes on the blog.Just search “beans” and several will come up.

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  • Reply Melike Kavala December 5, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    I am so happy to be with you on your site..we have so many similar recipies but still wondering and searching the healthy formulasvia your help ..

  • Reply Priscilla August 13, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    Hi there, I just found your website looking for a Greek salad recipe and am excited to see other great recipes to try! I was wondering if you knew how much fat and cholesterol is contained in feta since you have it in your recipes? I have to watch my cholesterol and I know cheeses are high in fat and Chol being dairy products. Thank you for your help and great website!

    • Reply Garth January 9, 2017 at 1:00 am

      Hello Priscilla, I realize this is an older post, but have you read The Great Cholesterol Myth? Great explanation of the lack of connection between dietary and blood cholesterol

  • Reply Debra July 6, 2014 at 12:33 am

    Hi, just returned from vacation in Greece; we were often served a green, thin, stalked vegetable which tasted exactly like spinach without the soggy wilt. I bought a bundle of them from a street vendor- I cooked in salted hot water for ~10 minutes as instructed- perfect. Sprinkle with olive oil and lemon. Do you know the name of this vegetable? It was always served as a side dish in a neatly circular scoop.
    Thanks for any help,
    Sacramento, CA

    • Reply lagatta à montréal August 31, 2014 at 8:32 pm

      That could be Vlita.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN October 7, 2014 at 5:53 am

      Hi Debra,
      It may be vlita as mentioned previously, but it may be also a number of other greens that are often served at restaurants in Greece, it depends on the season. Generally though all greens are cooked the same way and served the same way.

  • Reply John Bobbin April 16, 2014 at 12:12 am

    Hi Elena,
    This is an excellent website, informative, well presented and best of all you do know your stuff. I watched a documentary on Crete in 1971 and it renewed my love of the mediterranean diet. When I was a school kid way back in the distant past, I had some Italian, Greek and German friends and i found loved the mediterranean food, I particularly shared their love of vegetables, fruit, nuts and pasta and I do have to confess I loved home made salami, without the nitrosamines (cancer causers). In the 1971 doco it showed a Cretian fellow walking around with a camera crew gathering wild herbs and one of those herbs was purslane. I never stopped looking for purslane from that time on. I found it in publications like ‘Eat Your Own Weeds’ but could not identify it clearly enough to find it in the wild, besides all the references to it were either American or European, so I did not know for sure that it grew in Australia. I found it at a farmers market in 2012 and now grow it at home as a house vegetable (herb). In 1976 I started studying nutrition (basic) then Diploma of Nutritional Science, then I became a Herbalist, Naturopath and finally last year I graduated with a Master of Clinical Science(Lifestyle Medicine) from Southern Cross University. Without my love of Mediterranean food and later Asian food I would never have started this journey. Health through nature.
    Cheers
    John Bobbin MClinSc(LifestyleMed)
    LIFESTYLEMEDICINEVILLAGE.COM

  • Reply MELİKE KAVALA February 17, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    Hi ELENA , I feel myself so lucky to meet your site as I was deeper and deeper searching on CRETAN COUSINE..since 30 years I am trying to avoid the western unhealty food very strictly and as I studied pharmaceutical botanic in Faculty of pharmacy years I am in love in herbs more than ever..wish we will be exchanging valuable notes from ISTANBUL to ATHENS…WITH LOVE..

  • Reply Cindy Burris January 2, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    Hello Elena! Found your site while researching what/how to cook with olive oil. Have friends in Greece who brought us olive oil from their own orchard (lucky yes?) and while I’m thinking it should be saved for ‘special’ dishes (like on my Greek salads) I would like to cook with olive oil. Can you address what kind I would look for in order to get best results and I can fry with it??? I found the site that said I could NOT and got suspicious when the big Wesson Oil canola bottle was pictured at the end. But happily it led me to your response and website!! I’m looking for any and all help as I want to be healthy, lose some weight and LOVED the Greek food I was served by my wonderful friends in Koroni. Thank you!

  • Reply Mir December 30, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    Hi Elena, from Chicago! I just found the Mediterranean diet, and welcome your site as a wonderful reference tool! Thank you for your recipes and information, I look forward to using your updates as a way to stay healthy and explain the diet to others.

  • Reply Judy Crabtree September 12, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Hi Elena,

    I have been searching for a healthy alternative to my diet and one that my family will embrace. I have a friend Jeanie who gave me a book to read called the Flat Belly Diet– By Liz Vaccariello. Which led me to you.I believe that the Mediterranean Diet is going to be just what I’ve been looking for ,for taste and nutrition. We shall see.

    Sincerely,

    Judy

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN September 16, 2013 at 6:35 am

      Thank you for your note Judy.
      The Flat belly diet is a Mediterranean style diet which describes monounsaturated fat as the “secret”. However, the original Mediterranean diet is the most studied diet, with a lot of research behind it and a diet that occurred naturally in mainly Greece and Italy. I think you will enjoy it, as it is very flavorful and not low-fat. Reducing slightly your calories can help you lose weight (if needed).

  • Reply Anika September 3, 2013 at 10:15 am

    Geia sou Elena!
    I currently live in Athens and am from California. I am crazy about health, nutrition, local farms and cooking. I just found your site and want to say hello.

    Anika

  • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN August 7, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    Wonderful, enjoy!

  • Reply dimitrios pavlidis June 28, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    Very nice site, very healthy food !!!

  • Reply Ondina Maria June 3, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Hi Elena

    I’m more and more in love with the Mediterranean Diet. In Portugal, food took the same path as in Greece and nowadays people reject what was traditional and stuff themselves with junk food. Recently there’s been a group of people that are trying to revive all that was good and healthy about our past life style. So, for me it’s a real pleasure to read your wonderful blog and apply your advices 🙂

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN June 12, 2013 at 6:43 pm

      Thank you Maria, One of my most memorable and delicious meals was in a fish restaurant in Portugal! Yes, all of us in the Mediterranean need to revive our traditional foods and ingredients and find a way to bring them in our daily lives.

  • Reply George Contaxakis April 7, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    Thank You! Just great in all aspects hope people will adopt part our cousin not only because it tastes Good! But also for the health benefits which a lot of us know but the public out there is always skeptical, and thank YOU are showing them, great stuff keep it up makes us proud!!! One more feather in our cap. It is Very True we love food, we leave to eat and to us a meal is a feast it been said in ancient days Greeks when they feasted in the wealth of food they payed homage to the 5 Ancient Gods responsible for our senses, we just do not eat so that we can stuff our stomachs.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN April 9, 2013 at 6:21 am

      Thank you George! Yes our cuisine combines both health and taste, making it ideal for anyone.

  • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN July 4, 2012 at 6:30 am

    Thank you Ted! Yes, Sonoma has wonderful food, my sister in law lives in Sonoma. I love goat cheese too! Feta is primarily made from sheep’s milk – sometimes it does not contain any goats milk. It was a shepherds cheese.

  • Reply Ted Theo July 4, 2012 at 3:16 am

    Lovely lovely site!! Just a comment on Feta though. If you live in Northern California look for the exclellent feta cheese made from goat milk in Sebastopol,Sonoma county. When I go there I bring some for my cousins here in Athens. The ladies are from a village where they know their cheese! They tell me the had not tasted such true goat cheese for a very long time. They sell it at the Berkeley’s farmers market every Saturday. California is NOT Denmark, all right?

    • Reply Donatta Dick December 5, 2020 at 10:38 pm

      Hi! I love your recipes. I was just reading an article on Forks Over Knives website that cites studies done on the effect of olive oil on the endothelial cells. The 1999 study by Dr Esselstyn concluded that olive oil impairs the arteries’ ability to dilate properly, causing artherosclerosis. Do you have any opinion on this study and its conclusion that’s the Mediteranean diet is healthy DESPITE olive oil, and olive oil is just as bad as any other fat? I would appreciate your insight to a confusing debate. Thank you!

      • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN December 6, 2020 at 9:27 am

        Hi Donatta,
        Thank you your kind words. The one study you note has been done on a very small group of people who were also taking medications so you cannot make these conclusions, on the other hand there are hundreds of studies showing the benefits of olive oil and of the mediterranean diet.

        There are numerous studies that have measured antioxidants in olive oil so the statement made is simply not true.

        Longstanding evidence from multiple sources shows that olive oil provides benefits.

        Hope this helps

        Elena

    • Reply Eleni Zabeli February 5, 2017 at 6:27 pm

      because the “new” Greeks try to adopt the American diet and all the junk food instead to eat the Mediterranean diet

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