The Do No Harm Diet

The Do No Harm Diet

Embrace the core of a bodhisattva experience: spreading joy both inside and out.

Photo Credit: Gary Seronik

The “bodhisattva vow” is a commitment from the Buddhist tradition to put others before oneself—and to be willing to give up one’s own well-being for the sake of others. A bodhisattva is one who lives in the spirit of that vow, cultivating the qualities known as the six perfections: generosity, discipline, patience, exertion, meditation, and transcendental knowledge. Taking the bodhisattva vow implies that instead of holding our own individual territory and defending it tooth and nail, we become open to the world that we are living in. It means we are willing to take on greater responsibility, immense responsibility. In fact, it means taking a big chance. But taking such a big chance is not false heroism or personal eccentricity. This tradition of responsibility and openness has been handed down from generation to generation and practiced by millions. Now we too have the opportunity to participate in the sanity and dignity of this tradition. The tradition can be manifested in the lives of teachers, artists, even businesspeople.

By taking the bodhisattva vow, we acknowledge that we are not going to be instigators of further chaos and misery in the world; instead, we are going to be liberators, inspired to work on ourselves as well as with other people. Our goal is to become human beings who are genuinely able to help others; that is, people who enable other people to help themselves.

The bodhisattva vow is the journey of a lifetime that can start at any time in any number of ways. For me the path began to unfold in college, where I was studying anthropology. I was fascinated by food and diet and sustainability, and my studies led me first to become a vegetarian. Then, as part of a spiritual awakening, I decided not to eat food that came from animals, and I became a vegan. I also discovered yoga.

My goal had been to earn a PhD in the anthropology of food, but I discovered that my real calling was teaching yoga and hosting meals featuring vegan recipes. I love to cook, and over time I developed healthy recipes that people love to eat, and thus I had a glimpse of what I believe is the core bodhisattva experience: spreading joy both inside and out. As part of my own vow I set out to share my recipes in The Bodhi Cookbook.

I poured my heart and soul into each of these recipes. I urge you to experience the simple joy of preparing and sharing a meal that does no harm—and to see where it leads.

A Menu of Family Favorites

Tomato Mint Quinoa Salad with Sliced Almonds


1 cup quinoa
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
4 radishes, sliced
½ cucumber, diced
Toasted almond slices


Olive oil
Juice of one lemon
Fresh mint, chopped finely
Fresh parsley, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the quinoa.

Add all of the ingredients together in a serving bowl.

Prepare and stir in the dressing and mix well.

Sweet Potato & Vegetable Lasagna

1 onion, chopped
1 small head of garlic, all cloves chopped or pressed
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced (I used portobello and crimini)
1 head broccoli, chopped
6 leaves fresh basil
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon rosemary
2 jars pasta sauce
1 box whole grain or riceno-boil lasagna noodles
Baby spinach
2 sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
6 Roma tomatoes, sliced thin

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Sauté the onion and garlic on high heat for three minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until the onions are caramelized and the mushrooms are tender. Add the broccoli and sauté until tender. Add the oregano, dried basil and rosemary to the vegetable mix.

Cover the bottom of a nine-by-13-inch casserole dish with a layer of sauce. Add a layer of noodles. Cover the noodles with sauce (this way the noodles cook in the oven, saving time and energy). Spread the vegetable mixture over the sauced noodles. Cover with a layer of noodles and another dressing of sauce. Add a layer of mashed sweet potatoes and then lay the spinach on top. Add another layer of sauce, the final noodles, and a last topping of sauce. Top the lasagna with thinly sliced Roma tomatoes.

Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Berrylicious Crisp

Yield: Six to eight servings


1½ containers strawberries
2 small containers blueberries
1 small container raspberries
1 tablespoon maple syrup (use agave nectar if you want it raw)


1 cup raw walnuts
1 cup raw pecans
¼ cup uncooked rolled oats
2 tablespoon maple syrup
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Wash and slice strawberries into bite-sized pieces. In a large bowl, mix the sliced strawberries and other washed berries. Toss with maple syrup or agave nectar.

Prepare the topping in a food processor by pulsing all ingredients until just mixed. You want to leave this mixture very chunky, so be sure not to overprocess.

Pour most of the berry mixture into a casserole dish, reserving a few tablespoons. Spread evenly. Then add most of the topping over the berries, reserving a few tablespoons. Sprinkle on the remaining berries, and finally the rest of the topping.

Serve immediately, or chill for one hour. This raw crisp does not keep in the fridge overnight, as it gets very watery. Be sure to mix just prior to serving.

Note: It is also great with peaches!

Carolyn Gunn Strickler was killed in a car accident in October 2013. This article was adapted by her family from the manuscript of The Bodhi Cookbook, which they intend to publish.

Join Us on the Journey

Sign Up

Enjoying this content?

Get this article and many more delivered straight to your inbox weekly.