STEAMED ARTICHOKES WITH BASIL DIPPING SAUCE
8 fresh artichokes
1/2 cup vegetable based mayonnaise (Vegenaise)
1/4 cup soy cream cheese (Tofutti brand)
1/4 cup water
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 t ground mustard seed
1/4 t turmeric
1/4 t kelp granules
1/8 t cayenne pepper
1/8 t Himalayan sea salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
8 large, fresh basil leaves, minced
Prepare and steam the artichokes. Place steamer in a large deep pot (will need to use two pots for 8 artichokes) and bring about 2 inches of water to a boil under the steamer. Using scissors or kitchen sheers cut the tips off of all the artichoke petals and using a sharp knife cut about 3/4 inch off of the top to remove the tips of the top petals and cut the stem so the artichoke will stand easily on its own. Place the artichokes in the steamer stem end up. Steam on medium-high heat for 30 to 40 minutes or until tender and a sharp knife can be inserted in the stem with ease. Carefully remove artichokes using tongs. Serve immediately with basil scented sauce.
To make the sauce, combine the vegenaise and the next 9 ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Using a hand blender, beat until smooth. Stir in the minced basil. Serve alongside the artichokes. Serves 8. ©Janice Moreland http://thekitchentwist.com

THE TWIST

Artichokes are antioxidant powerhouses, sporting more antioxidants than any other vegetable. Antioxidants helps to prevent aging, birth defects, some kinds of cancer, heart disease and other illnesses.  Artichokes are also very beneficial to the liver and studies have found they may even regenerate liver tissue. Artichokes help the digestive system, they are a natural diuretic, they aid digestion and improve gallbladder function. The carbohydrate in artichokes is in the form of inulin, which has been shown to stabilize blood sugar levels in diabetes. The artichokes must be fresh, as the inulin will eventually convert to other sugars as the artichoke ages. One large artichoke contains a quarter of the recommended daily intake of fiber. A medium artichoke has more fiber than an entire cup of prunes!

The basil in the dipping sauce also promotes health and youthfulness due to its antioxidant activity. It have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body which promotes healing. Basil is a very good source of iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamins C and K as well as a dietary fiber.

I like to add a tiny bit of kelp to many of my recipes due to the high mineral content of this amazing sea vegetable. Kelp is a great source of iodine which is essential for overall health and effects everything from the thyroid, hormones, reproductive issues, depression, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and on and on. Kelp can easily be found at Whole Food Markets and many other natural health food stores.