Fall Harvest Eats

Happy Fall Season to everyone in the Arthritis community! This is one of my favorite times of the year as we anticipate and prepare for the festivities of the upcoming holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Most of us may generally feel overwhelmed as we go through the seasonal changes that come with colder weather and our bodies are experiencing more pain than usual. Then there are emotional and physical stress that comes with entertaining, shopping, and possibly cooking for holiday events with family, friends, and office parties with business associates along with co-workers.

In the spirit of Thanks-Giving it Back theme of this edition, I want to take this opportunity to share with you my family’s journey to America and the people who have helped us along the way. My family and I immigrated to the United States from Southeast Asia in 1979. When we first arrived to this country, we didn’t know what Thanksgiving and Christmas were or how to celebrate these holidays because they are not part of our ethnic culture. We had an American family that sponsored us when we arrived to this country and they taught us the meaning of giving thanks and how Christmas was celebrated. It was also our sponsor family who helped my parents find the best pediatric rheumatologist in Salt Lake City so that I could be treated with appropriate healthcare services. When I reflect on this past journey, I am reminded of the sacrifices that my parents made for us to have a better life in this country and the American families who welcomed us with open arms and big hearts. I recall my mother making this Asian yam and sweet coconut stew during Thanksgiving to share with people who have made positive impacts in our lives.

I thought it would be a wonderful idea to share with you my mother’s recipe as passed down to her by her mother as so many people loved the uniqueness of this Lao (Laos is my birth country) dessert. I took her original recipe and a spin to it by adding ingredients that smell and taste like the fall harvest season! It turns out that this version is Gluten-Free, Vegan, and Dairy-Free. 19 fluid oz. can of coconut cream

Sweet Potato & Coconut Dessert Stew Makes about 4 Servings


6 small sweet potato (pinkish-red skin with orange flesh), cut up into 1 inch cubes19 fluid oz. can of coconut cream1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice ¼ cup of organic pure maple syrup3 tablespoons toasted white sesame seed


Pour the entire can of coconut cream into the medium size pot and turn the stove to medium-high heat. Be careful not to let the coconut reach boiling point. Add the sweet potato to the pot along with the vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice, and maple syrup. After cooking for 5 minutes on medium heat, reduce the heat to low and cover the pot allowing the sweet potato to gently simmer in the coconut cream for another 15-18 minutes. Then turn off the stove and allow the stew to cool down for at least 5 minutes before serving. After dishing up the sweet potato stew, sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds on top to garnish before serving. Enjoy and Thanks-Giving it Back!

Carolyn resides in California and is the Arthritis Support Network leader in Fresno County. She was diagnosed with juvenile-onset rheumatoid arthritis at 3 years old. Living with a rheumatic condition for over 40 years has been a physical and emotional challenge due to severe joint deformities and chronic pain. Carolyn enjoys cooking just like her mom! She has a personal Facebook blog titled, “Happiness is in the Kitchen” where she shares memories of food, fun, and family.


Carolyn's picture
Thu, 12/22/2016 - 11:35pm


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