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Delicious, nutritious, fast, easy: good eats in Encinitas

“Eat a balanced meal.” How many times have you heard this? But for a full time working person, making three meals a day is a big deal by itself — let alone making them balanced! Does that mean we can forget about eating healthy meals? Of course not.
We can however, choose ingredients so meals are not only fast to make but also easy, delicious and nutritious too! “Come on, you’ve got to be kidding me!” I hear you, but it’s true that indeed you can.
I recently discovered Baker & Olive, a specialty olive oil and balsamic vinegar store in Encinitas. Mind you they also have fantastic handmade breads, cheeses and all kinds of other specialty food items. Talk about making healthy meals easier, this is the place to go.
By now we’ve all heard about the benefits of olive oil and its use in the Mediterranean diet. From protecting against heart disease to reducing risk of high blood pressure and stroke the benefits are seemingly endless. You don’t need to completely change your lifestyle to reap the benefits, just some ingredients. Start by using olive oil and balsamic vinegar instead of store bought salad dressings. Omit butter and cream to make sauces, use olive oil and balsamic vinegar instead. Have a hard time making vegetables tasty? You guessed it: add some olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
The staff at Baker & Olive is really into food — in a down to earth kind of way. Although Sean can tell you how to make the perfect boeuf bourguignon and Maria can give you seven ways to use the sun-dried tomatoes, they’re not the least bit intimidating. They’ll be the first to tell you that you don’t have to go to culinary school to make delicious meals. Just listen to their little tips and tricks if the kitchen isn’t your natural habitat.
Some of the tips I took home are: 1. Mix equal parts of Tuscan Herb Olive Oil with Traditional Balsamic and drizzle over tomatoes (also makes a killer steak sauce!). 2. Sauté mushrooms in Mushroom & Sage Olive Oil, add sea salt and pepper to taste. Cook pasta of your choice as directed and add to the mushrooms. Grate some Parmigianino cheese over it and serve. 3. Drain a can of white beans, add equal parts of Persian Lime Olive Oil and Honey Ginger White Balsamic, mash beans with fork, add some sea salt to taste, serve with veggie sticks or bread. Yummy!
Let’s talk bread! Marion, the owner, is German and one of the things she misses most from Germany is their wonderful hearty breads. So she made sure to offer some of these tasty breads at her store — like Vollkorn Brot, Sunflower Flax and Peasant Loaf.
One of my favorite summer lunches are tartines (open-faced sandwiches). Tartines are best made with rustic breads. Ideally the inside of the bread should be closely knit; otherwise the ingredients will fall through. Baker & Olive’s Peasant Loaf is perfect for it. One piece of bread plus a topping or two and you’re all set. Spread with soft goat cheese, top with strawberries and add a few drops of Cinnamon Pear balsamic vinegar — done, balanced and delicious!
The fact that you’re able to try all the olive oils, balsamic vinegars and combinations of the two, plus the desire of the staff to find the products that work best for you makes shopping at Baker & Olive a fun, personalized and memorable culinary experience you’ll want to have again and again.
Visit Baker & Olive at 165 S. El Camino Real in Encinitas, call them at (760) 944-7840, or visit them online at