Giving Up Gluten

Farmers' Almanac contributor Susan Shanagan recently learned she has Celiac Disease. Find out how she copes without wheat, and try one of her favorite gluten-free recipes.

Think about what would happen if you couldn’t eat something that you absolutely loved for the rest of your life. At first you’d probably say to yourself that it’s ok, I don’t eat that all the time. Then the next day comes and you remember an additional item that you can no longer eat. Then the day after and the day after that — and you say to yourself that you are still so much better off than so many other people, so suck it up and stop complaining. And on the outside you do suck it up. You don’t complain, but every day conjures up other items that are on your newly discovered “can’t eat” list.

For the most part I’m a pretty healthy eater. I eat grilled fish and chicken, very little red meat, lots of grains, vegetables, fruit and dessert maybe once or twice a week over the weekend. However, I love (although sparingly eaten) pizza, pasta, warm crusty bread with garlic olive oil, a good decadent chocolate cake, pancakes, waffles — but I have been told that I have Celiac disease.

Celiac disease is a disease of the digestive system in which the inside lining of the small intestine is damaged after eating wheat, rye, oats, or barley, resulting in interference with the absorption of nutrients from food. Celiac disease occurs when the body reacts abnormally to gluten, a protein found in grains, including wheat, rye, barley, and possibly oats. When someone with celiac disease eats foods containing gluten, that person’s immune system causes an inflammatory response in the small intestine, which damages the tissues and results in impaired ability to absorb nutrients from foods.

I love to cook. In my opinion, in order to be a good cook, a person constantly tastes what they are making or inventing, and tweaking the recipe according to taste. I have to now be careful when I do that. So, I wanted to write an article about gluten free cooking, but I’m still trying to tackle this thing and pretend that the cardboard tasting gluten-free products that are now all over in stores are not as bad as they seem. But, I think many of them are. So, while I try to cook a whole new way, the recipes I share with you may or may not be gluten free in the beginning — but as I said, I’m working on it.

Salmon is good for you, and there are many different ways to cook it. Here is a recipe for Teriyaki glazed Salmon cooked on a cedar plank and gluten free! Soy Sauce has wheat in it, so obviously it is on the “Can’t eat” list. But Low Sodium Gluten Free Tamari Sauce is excellent, especially with the added ingredients you’ll see below! Whether you are affected by gluten and wheat – or not, this recipe is so good that everyone can eat it and you wouldn’t even know the difference. AND, you don’t have to cook two different meals!

Orange Teriyaki Salmon Dinner
Sesame seeded Orange Teriyaki Glazed Salmon over garlic stir-fried spinach with glazed carrots, sautéed onion and mushroom black rice. (Black rice has a nutty taste, soft texture, and beautiful rich deep purple color. High in nutritional value, it contains 18 amino acids).

Salmon Filets
Orange Teriyaki Marinade & Glaze
Fresh Baby Spinach
Minced scallions
Black Rice
Black & white sesame seeds — toasted in a frying pan
Sliced mushrooms
Chopped Vidalia onions
Wasabi Sauce for finishing

Orange Teriyaki Marinade & Glaze
Zest of 3 oranges
1/2 cup Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce — (SAN-J makes a Gluten Free Soy Sauce called TAMARI)
1/2 cup sugar — (I use Agave Nectar, 1/4 – plus a little more to taste equals 1/2 cup sugar)
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup Asian sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed, diced
A few slices of fresh ginger
2 whole Star Anise

Put it all together early in the day so all the flavors have a chance to marry. The recipe calls for sugar. I changed the recipe and substituted Agave Nectar. (Agave Nectar is a real sugar, as opposed to an artificial or non-nutritive sweetener. It has properties similar to many sugars with one important exception: its glycemic index is significantly lower. This makes it a healthier alternative to many processed and natural sweeteners).

Season the salmon with some salt and pepper. An hour or so prior to cooking the salmon, pour some of the teriyaki marinade over the fleshy part of the salmon, and then turn them upside down in a pan so they can soak up the marinade. Depending upon how many filets you make, pour some of the teriyaki sauce in a small sauce pan and thicken it to a nice consistency with some cornstarch and water. This is going to be used later when you plate the dish.

You can either cook the salmon on a cedar plank (the best way!) or in an oven, baked. If on a plank, make sure you follow plank instructions by soaking the plank and having a spray water bottle on hand for flare-ups. After you follow the directions for plank grilling, place the salmon on the plank, close the lid on the grill and cook at 350°F – 400°F (180°C – 200°C) for about 15 to 20 minutes. I usually cook the salmon on the plank until it feels a little firm to the touch. Check every 5 minutes or so for flare-ups. If you are cooking the salmon in the oven — and not on a plank, place it on a piece of un-greased aluminum foil if there is skin. It makes it easier to separate the fish from the skin this way when it is done. Grease the foil if there is no skin. Cook in a pre-heated oven for about 15 or 20 minutes at 400 degrees.

Cook the black rice according to package directions. Cook your carrots as normal. When done, add a dab of butter and a pinch of brown sugar. Sauté the chopped onions – depending upon how much rice you are making, 1 cup of rice feeds about 4 people as a side dish. 1 medium onion should do the trick and 1 package of mushrooms. Save the sautéed mushrooms and onions on the side until the rice is done, then you can add this to the rice with a dab of butter for extra flavor. Sauté the spinach in olive oil and garlic.

Plating the dish:
Place the sautéed spinach over to the side of a heated plate. Use tongs so you can leave behind excess water from the spinach. Place the salmon on top of the spinach, the carrots on one side of the fish, the rice on the other. Spoon some of the thickened hot glaze over the salmon and spread it over the entire filet. Sprinkle on the black and white seeds. Make a design of the wasabi sauce over the top of the fish. Then sprinkle the minced scallions over the entire dish.

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Susan Shanagan

Susan Shanagan lives in Northwest New Jersey. She is a food aficionado who loves to cook and experiment with delicious ingredients.

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welcome to the gf community…..the easiest way to battle the cardboard foods is to go to your grocer and request/nicely demand the good stuff! 🙂 it does exist! …and generally your grocer will receive your input graciously!


i would love your list, wendy


Nice recipe but really bad if you have kidney stones or the gout…. Salmon is nearly as bad as shellfish, spinach is bad too. Maybe I will try it with haddock and broccoli ???

Nina Klooster

The Flying Apron bakery in Seattle has great gluten free baked goods. I have their cook book and have found the house bread good.


Skip the agave nectar and use sugar. Agave nectar is metabolized in your liver just like high fructose corn syrup. If you can find any of the MIss Robens mixes around they are pretty good. They make an awesome pretzel mix and I have made the chocolate cake mix several times for a friend at church that is on a gluten free casein free diet.


Gluten is about the only thing that I am not allergic to,i am allergic to dairy,eggs,soya,
nuts,most seeds and chocolate.i miss cheese and eggs the most.i use lactose free milk.
I have to be careful when I go in restaurents,i manage quite well by being very careful.


I have experienced many “cardboard” gf products and am amazed that so many are still on the shelves. If I were you, I’d join a celiac support group where you can learn from others which products are tasty and which to avoid. Our fearless leader is great in rounding up products to taste test at every meeting so products can be sampled without putting out the big bucks and being disappointed. Tip: for bread, try Udi’s or Rudi’s and Lucy’s cookies are the best! Gf ravioli, spring rolls, breaded chicken and fish and more can now be found in the frozen food section. You needn’t feel too deprived, especially when you feel much better!


Susan, I’ve been gluten free for about 4 years and have a picture ‘list’ of my favorites. Would be happy to email it to you to help you. It took me a lot of trial and error to find items that filled in the gaps when you go gluten free and have been asked many times for my picks. Just had chicken and dumplings last night and fried chicken the night before. There are good choices if you know where to look.


Our family is also gluten free. Our daughter, Karissa, is an awesome cook, and started
a gluten free blog because she has a heart for people dealing the challenges of cooking gluten free. Check out KARISSA’S GLUTEN FREE BLOG at where you’ll find over 150 delicious recipes. (We serve gluten free food to guests, who have no idea that our food is any different!)


Awesome recipes…be sure it’s not farmed salmon that you are eating.

Helen G

The recipe is easy to make and everyone can eat it. Will make for it tonight for dinner. Salmon is so good for you !

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