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.

151 Comments

  • 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 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 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.

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