Stay Healthy and Beautiful With Shashlik

Effects of Shashlik

Every summer until late fall the, country air is scented with the mouthwatering aroma of shashlik. It sounds perfect -- and tasty -- but there is a problem, and it affects foods like shashlik that are grilled over an open flame. The culprit is the sugar that caramelizes when the food is grilled -- the same thing that gives it that great layer of crunchy flavor.

Anti-aging scientists have found that foods that contain sugar speed up the aging process. This is a result of glycation, a natural process where the sugar molecules in the cells stick to the protein fibers, forming harmful new molecules called advanced glycation end-products, or AGEs for short. These AGEs accumulate, causing inflammation and damage to nearly all the cells and molecules in the body. Eat too many AGEs, and skin loses its elasticity. It becomes more vulnerable to wrinkling, sagging, and UV damage.

Healthy Shashliking

No one is going to give up the fun of shashlik, so why not consider some healthy alternatives and add some new choices to the traditional menu? Salmon and baby spinach with just a touch of white wine will steam to perfection over a barbecue fire. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts slathered in a prepared or fresh pesto of basil or sundried tomatoes are delicious too when cooked in the French style of “en papillote”.

Cooking the food in parchment-lined foil will keep it moist and tasty, and it will prevent the caramelization, or browning, that causes the damaging AGEs. These lighter dishes go well with the traditional platters of fresh tomatoes and cucumber usually served. Add some tasty yogurt and garlic dip, some fresh crusty bread, and you have a forest feast that will leave you looking ageless.

Taking Care of Your Skin

Eating flavorful foods with friends beside a fire is just one way to enjoy the outdoors. But while you are shashliking, don’t forget your skin. Generously apply a UV/UVB sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more to avoid signs of aging, which you’re trying to prevent. The best sunscreens contain antioxidants, such as vitamins E and C, or green tea to combat oxidative damage from UV sun exposure and the environment. Apply it 30 minutes before you plan to be outside so it has time to sink into your skin. And for a pretty, wrinkle-free pout, be sure to use a lip balm or gloss with an SPF too. Lips are the most sensitive area of your skin.

Here’s a no-AGEs recipe for salmon and baby spinach on the grill:


100 g of fresh salmon fillet per person

1 onion, thinly sliced

2 large handfuls (120 g) well-rinsed baby spinach leaves per serving

1 clove garlic, crushed in paste

3 springs of fresh dill, chopped finely

2 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons white wine

Salt and pepper, to taste


1.    Mix garlic, dill, oil and white wine together well.

2.    Season the fish with salt and pepper.

3.    Cut a large square of foil and wax or parchment paper to hold the fillet and spinach. Top the foil square with the paper square. Place the spinach in the center of the paper, and top with a few slices of very thinly sliced onion.

4.    Top with the fish fillet and drizzle with sauce.

5.    Fold the paper in half and roll the edges tightly to make a leak-proof package. Be sure to encase the parchment/wax paper completely in the foil paper.

6.    Cook on the grill rack of a hot grill for 10 minutes. Very thick fish fillets may require 12 minutes to cook.

The packets keep the fish moist and tasty. Be sure to open carefully, avoiding steam!