Frequently Asked Questions

Where is Olive Tomato?

I currently write from my home in Athens, Greece or wherever I travel. I spent half my childhood growing up in a suburb of on the south side of Chicago and my teens growing up in Athens, Greece.


Is Olive Tomato a food blog?

Yes and No. I do post many Greek and Mediterranean inspired recipes, but I also post about the Mediterranean and Greek diet. The latest news, research and health benefits of this diet.


Are you qualified to present information on health and diet?

I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (former American Dietetic Association) provides a good explanation of a RDN’s credentials:

“A registered dietitian nutritionist is a food and nutrition expert who has met academic and professional requirements including:

  • Earned a bachelor’s degree with course work approved by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). Coursework typically includes food and nutrition sciences, foodservice systems management, business, economics, computer science, sociology, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology and chemistry.
  • Completed an accredited, supervised internship
  • Passed a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.
  • Completes continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration.”

However, apart from a nutrition degree, I also have a degree in psychology.


What made you start writing?

I’ve always liked the idea of promoting healthy eating habits to larger audiences. I have been writing in magazines, newspapers, websites for almost 15 years. I also worked as a food and nutrition editor for several magazines in the past.


Where do you get your recipes from?

Some are developed by me. Others are recipes from my mother or grandmother and others are traditional Greek recipes that I have added my own little twist.


What is your food and cooking philosophy?

Obviously I am the ultimate proponent of the Mediterranean diet. That means a diet that is tasty, hearty and healthy. I do lean towards more vegetable based dishes rather than meat based dishes which is what the traditional Greek-Mediterranean diet is about. Also most of my recipes are simple and not time-consuming.


Are you a trained cook?

I am not formally trained. However apart from learning most of the things I know from my mother, I have worked in various jobs where recipe development and cooking was required. I was the Food and Beverage Director for Starbucks here in Greece when they first opened. I was in charge of developing recipes, choosing the food to be sold at all the stores and making sure that food tasted well. I also worked as a Food Service Manager when I was younger in a hospital, where I was in charge also of overlooking the kitchen, making sure the food tasted well, as well as providing the right food for specific diets of the patients. And of course I cook every day for my family, developing new recipes and perfecting old ones.


Do you take your own photos?

Most of the photos are taken by me. If they are not, than I have provided the appropriate source with a link.


I really liked one of your articles, can I publish them on my blog, publication, etc. ?

All my articles are protected by copyright, as are my photos and republishing is prohibited.  I put in a lot of work, research and time in writing the articles, testing recipes, and taking the photos, so we can all agree that it only would be fair to not want someone using my material for free. If you would like content, recipe development or social media content, I would be happy to develop this for your website, business etc. Please look under the link “Services” for more information.

I occasionally share my content with non-profit organizations.


Do you speak Greek?

Yes I am bilingual. I am fluent in both English and Greek, spoken and written.


Is your blog a bit nationalistic?

Definitely not. The definition of nationalistic means a belief that your country is better and more important than other countries. I really do not think Greece or any other country is better than the next, nor have I expressed this anywhere. This blog is an objective look at the Greek and Mediterranean diet. Of course as I was raised on the Greek food there is an affection for this cuisine as I have grown up with it, the same way one would have memories of the food of their childhood. However, the Greek Diet is a different issue. Objectively research has shown that a traditional Greek Diet which served as the prototype of the Mediterranean Diet, is in fact healthier than other traditional diets, this is not an opinion, but an objective, evidence based observation.


I left a comment on your blog and it was not published or it was deleted, why?

This blog is a my home on the web, so I like to keep things pleasant and respectable for my visitors. If you are being insulting, mean or trying to sell something, your comment will not be published.


Do you provide individual diets or nutrition consultations?

Not at this time, but I am working on something similar for the future.


  • Reply Helen Robles July 30, 2014 at 2:58 am

    What does ekos mean?

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD July 30, 2014 at 7:36 am

      Hi Helen,
      I’m assuming you are referring to the Greek word ekos (oikos). It means the house or home, and sometimes it refers to to a company.

  • Reply Karen Sarames August 5, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    Hi Elena:

    Growing up, my yiayia made a dish called Minestera, with lamb, tomatoes and a tomato sause. How is Minestera different from Kritharaki?

    Thank you,

    Karen Sarames

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD August 7, 2014 at 7:50 am

      Hi Karen,
      Manestra is the same as kritharaki. Just another term for it.

      • Reply Laura Zanetis Post August 3, 2017 at 4:15 am

        Growing up, our grandmother called avgolemono soup “manesta”- That’s what all our cousins and my family have called it for years. I have never seen it called that anywhere, but finally did when we went to Samos – which is where my grandparents are from. That word was on a restaurant menu for the baked lamb dish you describe. I wonder where the word comes from (manestra). Do you know? Thanks!

        • Reply Elena August 16, 2017 at 10:29 am

          Hi Laura, It is thought to come from the latin word minestrare which means to pour, in a soup. My father’s family also calls anything with orzo manestra

  • Reply Heather Cornwell April 4, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    I am not much of a cook, but I do like roasted veggies and making them is rather easy. I used olive oil today, and I was asked to read a blog about 12 things not to cook with olive oil. I roast for at least 25 minutes between 350-375 degrees twice, flipping in between. No smoke or any harm, but Would like to know that I’m not making the veggies toxic or harmful to eat.
    Thank you for your time. So glad you have your own blog too.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD April 23, 2015 at 1:53 pm

      Hi Heather,
      The smoke point of olive oil varies, ranging at about 365 to 410 degrees Fahrenheit. The vegetables are not toxic or harmful but you will lose some of the nutrients in the olive oil. Also you do not want to re-use the olive oil.

  • Reply Ellen Tsambouris April 10, 2015 at 10:19 pm

    I’m glad I found your blog, great info here 🙂 Kαλό πάσχα from Calgary, Canada!

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD April 16, 2015 at 8:46 am

      Thanks Ellen! Hope you had a nice Easter.

  • Reply Sarah December 6, 2015 at 1:36 am

    I love your blog, though I’m sad to read that many Greeks (and other cultures as well) are adopting a Western diet. Thanks for sharing so much good info and recipes. Like Heather, above wrote to you back in April 2015, I was wondering about cooking with olive oil. Pancakes are not the healthiest food item, I know, but I do like to make gluten-free pancakes now and then, and I fry them in extra virgin olive oil. I have read that all oils are harmful when heated, since they oxidize. But then I’ve read that olive oil is still health-promoting, until it reaches it’s smoke point. I’ve also read that it’s good to cook with coconut oil, but I know that all cultures have not had coconut oil available to them. It is only the modern world that has allowed all cultures to eat all kinds of foods! What are yours thoughts, and do you have any fact-based studies/sources you could cite? I would really appreciate a clear answer on this, if you can help. Thank you!

  • Reply Marie January 10, 2016 at 6:04 pm

    I am so happy to have found your blog! I am beginning to adopt the Mediterranean diet and I really appreciate all of the information you post. It’s been very helpful to learn about it!

    I am wondering if you have any suggestions for snacks. As a teacher I don’t have time to sit and eat a full lunch during the day so healthy snacking is a must, but something I struggle with.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD January 20, 2016 at 8:33 am

      Hi Marie, We’ll by posting on that shortly. In the meantime healthy snacks include nuts, fruit (dry and fresh), half a sandwich with cheese on whole grain bread.

  • Reply Kevin gee March 23, 2016 at 2:39 am

    hi i am a first year student at QUT Brisbane and i would like to ask for your consent to use your material as part of my assignment as a reference toll.

  • Reply Brandy January 30, 2018 at 11:01 am

    what kind of bread do you use for a sandwich. i see the term whole wheat sandwich and i think of processed bread isle at the local grocery store. aside from making my own bread what is a good option?

    • Reply Elena January 30, 2018 at 11:06 am

      Here in Greece there are local bakeries provide grocery stores with whole wheat bread that is made only with whole grain flour, salt, water and yeast. So if you are buying bread those should be the only ingredients on the ingredient list.

  • Reply Beverly V. Piscitelli February 20, 2018 at 7:03 am

    Hi Elena,
    I love your blog and great information. Have tried many of your recipes with good success. I was referred to a nutritionist because of cholesterol issues and she has recommended a Mediterranean food plan which incorporates many of the food items you promote in your recipes.. I am hoping that my cholesterol number improve as a result of changing my food lifestyle. In the meanwhile I am looking for good Greek cookbook. Are you able to recommend any titles that you would prefer. I enjoy having a good reference/recipe book as a resource in my cookbook library.
    Thank you for your response. I look forward to all of your postings.

    • Reply Paul Belanger December 24, 2018 at 3:04 pm

      I would recommend Vefa’s Kitchen by Vafe Alexiadou published by Phaidon and The Olive and Caper by Sazanna Hoffman.

  • Reply Stephanie Connor February 3, 2019 at 12:58 pm

    I appreciate your website; it has been very helpful to me. What is your opinion on purchasing organic foods for the Mediterranean way of eating? Is that something that Mediterraneans do, or do they purchase conventionally grown items?

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN February 4, 2019 at 6:37 am

      Thank you Stephanie, Traditionally, if we think about it, the original Mediterranean Diet had organic produce as this diet is basically the diet of individuals living in rural areas who either grew their own fruit and vegetables or obtained them locally and at the time, in those areas, they were organic. Today, purchasing organic foods has the benefits of less pesticide residue, sustainability. One thing that you can do, that is still followed to this day is eating and preparing seasonal (and local) fruit and vegetables.

  • Reply Nancy Dixon May 11, 2019 at 6:20 am

    Hello Elena,
    I will start by saying that I am a (68 year old woman) and a very poor eater. I live on my own and rarely cook. Having said this I do want to rectify my eating behaviour and want to follow the Mediterranean diet. I was so happy to discover your website and hope that it will encourage me to change my eating habits. The funny thing is, even though I don’t cook and am a poor eater, I love watching cooking shows and reading/following cooking websites. Thank-you for piquing my interest.

  • Reply Pat McGrath May 17, 2019 at 5:27 pm

    HELP! Love all the ideas — BUT where can I find the portion sizes for the various items? Find the guide with suggested food combinations, shopping list, etc. but nothing about how much of whatever to have in a meal! 1 cup, 1/2 cup, 4 oz, etc.


  • Reply Annie May 28, 2019 at 3:38 pm

    I have enjoyed your website and appreciate your passion for educating people on a healthier way to eat. I am wondering if the cookbooks you recommend use whole grains because I have looked at a few Greek and Mediterranean cookbooks that still use white flour, which doesn’t seem right to me. Also, I am wondering if you are aware of any nutrition programs or other education options in the States that are slanted toward the Mediterranean diet rather than being low carb or Paleo. Thank you! Annie

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN June 4, 2019 at 5:38 am

      Traditionally, either barley flour or unprocessed flours were used, but also white flour. But the traditional Greek diet (prototype of the Mediterranean diet) had no processed foods. I cannot really recommend a book as most books offer a Westernized version of the Mediterranean diet. There are some hospitals in the US that provide education on the Mediterranean diet.

  • Reply Robert June 22, 2019 at 7:16 am

    Will the Greek Diet have positive Effects on a knee arthrosis?

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN June 23, 2019 at 10:11 am

      Hi Robert studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet can provide relief from arthritis.

  • Reply judi August 25, 2019 at 2:28 pm

    I just came across your site am very interested in trying your recipes and was wondering if you have a cook book or are planning on writing one. That would be nice to be able to have them to follow. Please keep up the great work. Thank you

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