BROWNSVILLE — When you enter “Amor y Pan” you can’t imagine that everything there is a healthy option, with the scent of the baking bread, the colorful decorations on top of the cupcakes and even the tortillas de harina, you might think you’ve found your new home away from home.

Karina Saldivar decided to leave home and study at the French Pastry School in Chicago back in 2003, but it was not until this year when she opened her lifestyle bakery “Amor y Pan” after several years of baking healthy options for family and friends who needed it.

Amor y Pan was born after Karina’s brother was diagnosed with lupus. She said after visiting several doctors and doing a lot of research, it all came down to one thing: healthy eating.

“When I came back I did not really see a market at that point, so, I kind of just put it in the back burner, and when my brother was diagnosed with that, I started to put my knowledge to the test and I started baking for him; all that I knew but a healthy version: no sugar, no grains, no flour, no glutten,” she said wearing a black mask that matched her chef coat, her brown-long hair resting on her shoulders.

“I had to make something good because we are so used to that food that if it’s what we call ‘diet food’ it tastes bad and I wanted to put my knowledge and make it work and make it taste like it is not diet food. From there, it kind of snowballed and here we are.”

Karina describes her business as a lifestyle market and bakery, in which main focus is no sugar,  low-carb and glutten-free. After those three rules, there are several other options for different lifestyles such as vegan, keto, paleo and in some cases, some desserts fit into all the three lifestyles.

Southern Belle cookies, snicker doodle, turtle cheesecake, a strawberry cupcake, and the dulce de leche chocolate cupcake are displayed Thursday at Amor y Pan. The bakery provides baked goods that are zero sugar, low-carb and gluten-free with additional options for those with paleo, vegan or keto lifestyles.(Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

“I was making desserts for family and friends and I just saw a necessity here in Brownsville because everybody would call me and everybody had an aunt, or a mom, an uncle, with heart disease, diabetes, I have early diabetes and that’s when I realized we needed something like this,” she said.

“This is very important because you are giving the people an option, when you don’t have these options at your fingertips you tend to eat bad and a lot of people might be able to do this at home, but sometimes they don’t have the time and there are certain ingredients that we can’t get here in Brownsville and we have to get from out of state.”

Among the things that the store offers one can find cupcakes, brownies, cupcakes, the signature of the store which are their cheesecakes and the grain-free tortillas de harina.

“Our tortillas which are the rockstar of the place, those are actually a grain-free option of what we would call a flour tortilla but they are almond flour with avocado oil and sea salt, and they taste and feel like a flour tortilla,” she said. “They are definitely the healthier option to what we are used to eating.”