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. I just got wanted to say I’ve recently adopted this diet using your recipes and recommendations from the book. It has helped me feel a 100 % better and healthier. I’m much more relaxed and happier. It has changed my life. I hope you come out with another book of recipes. I’d like to try some more advanced recipes so if you have recommendations let me know.

  2. I assuming your two week diet plan is based on calories for the day. Also, is it ok to use frozen vegetables.
    I shop at Trader Joe and get organic vegetables.

  3. Can you advise what a good brand of phyllo dough is that can be obtained in the United States?

  4. How can I find the amount of fiber in your recipes. My RD wants me to get 25-30 got fiber each day.

  5. Hi Elena, I just found your website yesterday and also ordered your book. I have 4 questions for you.
    1. What is a good onion replacement? (I have an onion allergy) typically I use celery in place of onion.
    2. Is whole wheat or whole grain bread made with a combination using all purpose white flour? Is it still considered to be 100% whole wheat or whole grain?
    3. I have been ordering my olive oil from The Olive Tap (Chicagoland area) for years. Can I continue to use the infused oils (garlic, lemon, basil etc…) or should I only be using the plain EVOO?
    4. Also from The Olive Tap are wonderful balsamic vinegars. Again, can I use some of the fruity ones like strawberry or raspberry or just the regular?

    Thank you so much for your help. I am excited to start the Mediterranean way of eating!!!

  6. Hi Elena, I’ve just bought your cookbook and am looking forward to starting out on my new journey. I see many of the recipes call for onions which my husband cannot eat due to a cyst on his bowel which gets aggravated by onions. Is there an alternative I could use please?

  7. Hello! Your cookbook is wonderful! Thank you for making Mediterranean recipes easy. I have been enjoying the delicious recipes and the beginner menu plan is most helpful. One question: The cookbook doesn’t show sodium content in the nutrition box at the bottom of each page. I need to follow a low sodium diet. Do you have suggestions for managing sodium on this plan? Thank you for your thoughts! —a new Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Beginners convert!

  8. Dear Elena love love love your book, but how do i figure out the caloric intake of Carbs, Fats and Protein, I am stumped on this,,,, so how do you figure out the daily ratio of the nutrients that you should be consumed in a day….. Thank you Barbara Crawford

    1. Thank you Barbara! On page 30 I discuss and provide guidelines on how to build a menu plan and meal based on the Mediterranean diet principles. You can see the required servings of each food group on page pgs 22-23. By following this you will be getting the macronutrients as described on pg 17. You can also use the 2 week menu as a guide.

  9. Dear Elena, I just stumbled onto your website. Am trying to learn more about the Mediterranean Diet which I studied while in my 20’s a life time ago. I have been gluten free for 15+ years and am wondering if you have recipes for me. Am also trying to lose weight. I see in one of your comments that someone is asking you for a template on meal planning. Is there a webpage for that. I truly want to have the best lifestyle I can and am grateful for any help you can give me. Hugs in advance. Susan Candler in Jacksonville, Florida

  10. OMG! Accidentally found your web site! OMG! It’s amazing. I’d get the book, but I’m not a beginner with this way of cooking! It’s my very best ethnic. I make it well. Just gotta cut out all that butter. Question…Those whole wheat olive pies? In the cookbook? Anyplace here on this site where I can store my favorite recipes? I LOVE THIS WEBSITE! THANK YOU SO VERY VERY MUCH. I’ll buy the book to support you but I’m loving what I see here! Be well, Barbara

  11. Do you have nutritional values or serving sizes with the Greek Chickpeas with Rice with Lemon & Tahini? If it is on there, I’m sorry I just didn’t see it.

  12. I am wondering if there is a balsamic vinegar brand you prefer. Also, what to look for when buying balsamic vinegar.

  13. Your site and book are my food bibles! What are your thoughts on bean pasta?

    Also how did your mom find healthy food in the states? It’s impossible to find healthy phyllo dough and even pita bread here. They put canola oil in everything :(.

    1. Dear Elena, I am a retired nurse practitioner living in Seattle. I just returned from 3 weeks in Greece – Peloponnese Peninsula, Athens and Corfu. My friend and did all the driving (no tours for us!) and hence saw many sheep and goats, but very few cows. We stayed in small hotels, “rooms” and occasionally apartments. As you know, the breakfasts in our lodging’s always included wonderful very thick yogurt with jam, honey, fruit (and we know it was full fat yogurt!!!).
      My question is this: is the yogurt that we were eating yogurt made from cows’ milk (in which case where are all the cows and where’s all that milk coming from???) or yogurt made from goat or sheep’s milk?? If it was cow-based yogurt, we’re we being served “tourist yogurt”, because I can’t imagine that most Greeks would be eating cow-based yogurt (cows are expensive and much less common in Europe, I believe).
      Please help me solve this culinary and medical-dietary mystery!!!!

      1. Hi Carol! Thank you for sharing! Regarding the yogurt, most likely it was from cow’s milk. The milk used may be from Greece but mainly it is from other European countries. Germany and France are huge producers of cow’s milk. I wouldn’t call it “tourist” yogurt, as it is produced in the traditional way. Today in Greece many Greeks do eat this type of strained cow’s milk yogurt.

    1. I have noticed an extra virgin olive oil that is unfiltered. Is this any better than s filtered type? Brand is Paesano. It says estate grown and hand pressed.

      I live in Chicago and love your recipes.

  14. Hi, I recently purchased your cookbook, I want to do a monthly planner, is there a template on your web page I can download to plan my meals.
    Many thanks.