WHIDBEY RECIPES | It’s just me and my 100 trillion friends

Ever since I learned, a short time ago, that I am a walking container for 100 trillion microbes, I feel as though I might glow in the dark.

Ever since I learned, a short time ago, that I am a walking container for 100 trillion microbes, I feel as though I might glow in the dark. I find myself looking at my skin and, besides cursing the wrinkles, wondering if anyone else notices that I’m covered with bacteria.

One hundred trillion microbes, all going on about their daily business, living their tiny little lives on or within my basic body space, while I meander through my days, basically oblivious of their presence.

In case you’re wondering what dread disease I have that caused this condition, let me assure you that you, too, probably have 100 trillion microbes, give or take a few thousand, housed in and on your body. Makes you feel a bit itchy, doesn’t it?

What’s fascinating is that yours are probably a bit different from mine, and that holds true for virtually every living human being. No two of us are likely to have exactly the same mix of microbes inhabiting our human condo.

Just by way of comparison, your body is made up of about 10 trillion cells, which means that once you’re born and the microbes, which are 1/1,000 the size of the cells, begin to move in, you’ll end up with 10 times as many microbes as you have basic body cells. I personally find that mind-stretching, perhaps even a tad frightening.

Fortunately, most of these parasitic bacteria, dependent upon your existence for theirs, are here to help you; in fact, they’re designed to make “things,” inside and out, work better. They’re called “benign bacteria” and they can do everything from helping you digest your food to fighting off invading bad germs and, just possibly, counteracting cancer cells.

Unfortunately, a tiny few of these 100 trillion microbes may, for a number of reasons, change character, forget they are there to help, and you could find yourself suffering from ulcers, asthma, myriad forms of inflammation, IBS, diabetes and other ailments scientists are still researching. There is some evidence, too early in the research right now to say for sure, that indicates these virtually invisible inhabitants of our bodies may also play a significant role in our weight gain, or lack thereof.

Good or bad, friend or foe, I now know where to lay the blame for whatever happens to be going on with my aging body. It’s just my IMs, inhabitant microbes, doing their thing.

RECIPES

As we’ve learned more about the role our resident microbes play in our overall health, probiotics have become very popular. These are supplements containing live bacteria cultures that are designed to enhance our own bacteria or replace ailing ones. If you’ve been on antibiotics for example, which kill both friendly and non-friendly microbes, you may need to replenish your army of healthy bacteria with a probiotic. Active culture yogurts are among the most popular of these now, and readily available in most supermarkets.

There are so many delicious ways to use yogurt; here is one of my favorite sauces for grilled seafood (especially salmon), grilled chicken, lamb chops; you can probably come up with several other uses once you try this versatile sauce.

GARLIC CILANTRO YOGURT SAUCE

1 1/2 cups plain whole milk Greek style yogurt

3/4 cup chopped cilantro

4-5 T. fresh lemon juice (to your taste for tart)

2 t. finely chopped or minced garlic

3/4 t. cayenne

1 t. kosher salt, or to taste

Stir all ingredients together in a bowl and chill well while flavors meld. Bring sauce to room temp. to serve. You can serve a small dish of sauce on each plate as a dipping sauce for grilled shrimp or chicken kebabs, or put a little on each piece of grilled salmon shortly before it finishes cooking, or simply pass the sauce to be used as desired for any of the items mentioned above.

Another yogurt sauce, equally versatile but particularly good with fruits and vegetables.

CITRUS YOGURT SAUCE

1 cup low fat plain Greek style yogurt, or plain whole milk yogurt (see note below)

2 T. extra virgin olive oil

2 T. water

1 t. freshly grated lime zest

1 T. freshly squeezed lime juice

1/2 t. freshly grated lemon zest

1 t. freshly squeezed lemon juice

3/4 t. salt (or to taste)

1/4 to 1/2 t. honey (to taste)

Whisk all ingredients together. Chill until ready to serve.

Note: If you are using plain whole milk yogurt, you’ll need to drain it a bit. Line a sieve or colander with two layers of cheesecloth or paper towels, place yogurt in the sieve and allow to drain, chilled, for at least 1 hour.

And, for something completely different to do with yogurt, here’s an easy recipe for a yogurt pound cake that is great with coffee for breakfast or after dinner with a touch of sorbet or whipped cream, for dessert.

FRENCH YOGURT CAKE

1 1/2 cups flour (all purpose, not cake flour)

2 t. baking powder

1/4 t. salt

1 cup plain whole milk yogurt

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs

1 t. packed finely grated lemon peel

1/4 t. vanilla

1/2 cup vegetable oil

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt into a med. bowl.

In a large bowl, combine yogurt, sugar, eggs, lemon peel and vanilla, whisking until well blended. Gradually whisk in the dry ingredients.

Using a spatula, fold in the oil. Transfer the batter to a generously buttered 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch metal loaf pan and place the pan on a baking sheet. Bake in the center of a preheated 350-degree oven about 50 min., or until cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cake on a rack in the pan for 5 min., then cut around pan side to loosen and turn cake out on to rack (upright) and cool completely.

The cake can be glazed with a marmalade glaze made by heating about 1/4 cup marmalade with 1 t. water until marmalade melts then brushing over the surface of the cake. Let glaze cool before cutting cake. Or serve with whipped cream or ice cream for dessert.

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