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.


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, of Greek heritage, 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



“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 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.



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 Humphries and 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)

Elena lives with her husband and her two sons, and divides her time between Chicago and Athens.

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.


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© 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.

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  1. Melike Kavala says:

    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 ..

  2. Priscilla says:

    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!

    1. 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

  3. 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

    1. lagatta à montréal says:

      That could be Vlita.

    2. 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.

  4. John Bobbin says:

    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.
    John Bobbin MClinSc(LifestyleMed)

  5. MELİKE KAVALA says:

    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..

  6. Cindy Burris says:

    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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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.



    1. 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).

  9. 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.


  10. dimitrios pavlidis says:

    Very nice site, very healthy food !!!

  11. Ondina Maria says:

    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 🙂

    1. 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.

  12. George Contaxakis says:

    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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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?