(First of all, you laughed at the title. I know you did. Because you totally got that it was a play on “Gee, you’re looking swell.” Because chia seeds swell. Get it? GET IT?)
I’m claiming hipster status with chia seeds. Why? Because I tried them first about 5 years ago, before they were cool. Suck on that, 30-second mention of chia seeds on The Chew last week.
But, the truth is, I only tried them once, and they freaked me out. No one told me what to expect; the clerk at the local natural foods store just stuffed a small bag in my hand and said, “here,” after I asked if there was something I could add to my granola to make it healthier.
So I took them home, put a spoonful in my granola with almond milk, and about 3 minutes later started gagging, because I couldn’t stop thinking about eating tiny fairy eyes. That is what they felt and looked like. Tiny sad, disembodied fairy eyes.
Tiny fairy eyes, because chia seeds swell to something like 12 times their normal size, and they feel pretty gelatinous with a bit of a crispy center. And, the first time I tried them, I hated it.
So, my chia seeds went to my next-door neighbor or a stranger on the street or something. And I vowed never to touch another one ever again in my whole entire life.
“Never say never.”
A few months ago, I decided to give chia another try. But not in my mouth – not at first. ON MY FACE. I’ll tell you why (and tell you how I use them in the mornings) in a minute. First, let me give you a quick and dirty refresher course on chia seeds, if you don’t know what they are or why you’d want to have them in your home.
Chia Seeds In A Nutshell
Long ago, while the Mayans were planning our 2012 demise through a large stone calendar, they were beefing up by eating chia seeds. Likely so they could roll that calendar around. By the way, the word “chia” actually means “strength” in the Mayan language.
Chia is a superfood – in fact, it’s kind of a super superfood. It’s a complete protein (meaning it contains all amino acids necessary for the human diet). This is really good news for you vegans out there, because not many plant sources provide this, as I’m sure you know.
It’s also really rich in omega-3/6/9 acids (yay!) AND it contains SIX TIMES more calcium than milk, by weight. Add to that a rich mineral profile, and you’ve got a tiny little (fairy eye?) seed that packs a lot of nutritional punch.
Oh! And fiber! So. Much. Fiber. In both soluble and insoluble forms, which means that it helps “clean you out,” but also offers other health benefits (like lowering cholesterol and helping you maintain proper blood sugar levels after eating, if you eat it with meals).
You can do a million things with chia seeds.
- Add them to a smoothie
- Make bread with them (or pancakes – tons of ideas here)
- Chia Pudding – an easy way to enjoy them (or chocolate-peanut butter pudding or fancy vanilla chia pudding)
- I hear they also make excellent egg baking replacements
- Spill a million of them on your kitchen floor and spend two hours cleaning them up! (Okay, you might not want to do this. I did today. Not fun, but chasing them around is great exercise!)
Here’s another cool thing about chia seeds: They don’t really taste like anything at all, but they will take on the taste of whatever you put them in. So they’re kind of like invisible health fairies. I am not letting the fairy thing go.
I’ve settled into a very easy routine to slip chia seeds into my diet – and on my face. Here’s how:
Chia: Rise and Shine, Drink-and-Wash
Ah. I just realized I left out the most important note I have to share about chia seeds.
They are CRAZY high in alpha-lipoic acids. Better known as ALA. Better known as that-ingredient-that-makes-skin-cream-cost-a-bajillion-dollars.
Alpha-lipoic acid is said to help with cell function, promote radiance in the skin, help diminish fine lines, and aid in antioxidant effectiveness.
So it makes sense that these little seeds would be a perfect morning facial scrub. And, yes. Yes, they are. I can’t say I’ve seen my fine lines diminish yet, but my skin feels very soft and clear all day long.
Here’s how I (and how you, too, can) incorporate chia seeds into a morning ritual – by drinking them and putting them on your face!
- Before I start brewing my coffee, I mix together 1-2 tsp honey with about 8 oz of warm water.
- Then, I add in 1 Tbsp of chia seeds and stir well.
- While I let that sit for about 5 minutes (so the chia starts to swell), I drink another glass of water with lemon in it (this is optional, but so very, very good for you)
- Then, I stir it up again and pour just a small amount (maybe 1 Tbsp) of the mixture into my hands and start scrubbing/rubbing my face with it.
- Without rinsing (yet), I drink the “chia seed honey water” and let the mixture on my face chill out for a while. Five to ten minutes, tops.
- Then, I rinse. And enjoy a soft face. Lovely.
Here’s the cool part. You don’t have to use water. I just like it for its simplicity. You could also use full-fat milk or coconut milk (great for dry or aging skin), almond milk, or even a fresh-pressed apple juice if you’d like (EXTRA exfoliating, with the acids in the apple).
And that … that is one awesome way to start the day – for your body AND for your face.
(FYI, you can get chia seeds almost anywhere these days. Vitacost sells them, Mountain Rose Herbs has excellent prices on organic chia, and you’ll find them in any natural foods store.)
Oh, by the way. I totally got over the fairy-eyes thing, and now I thoroughly enjoy the texture of chia seeds. Once I learned how incredibly healthy they are, it was a no-brainer. Now if I could only do that with broccoli.
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Where Can I Buy Chia Seeds?
Omfg, thanks very much for posting this! It is gonna help when I research Chia Seeds at the grocery store! Very Great!
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Can you make the chia seed and coconut milk mix and keep it for a while or does it have to be made fresh daily? I want to make some for my mother in laws birthday but she doesn’t live close by.
LMAO tiny fairy eyes!
That made me laugh. Really hard. You are a funny gal. 🙂
Normally I enjoy chia seeds in almond milk or greek yogurt with a few drops of vanilla flavoured liquid stevia, but I tried this recipe with hot water and honey. It was a really tasty change! The texture of the seeds doesn’t really bother me too much (as well it’s never bothered my stomach) so drinking the sweet gel like that is something I will do each morning now.
However, rubbing the gel on my face was a strange experience. I’m not sure I’ll try it again, unless I’m missing an important straining step, like separating the gel from the seeds? The little gelled seeds didn’t scrub at all, they just slimed around on my skin. I let it sit and then rinsed off, I guess my skin feels a little softer but it was just an odd experience.
Regardless, try this recipe, the honey-chia drink is really tasty!
I’m sure it is still great for your skin but I knew something was off when I read this. I’m pretty certain that the ALA in chia seeds is alpha-LINOLENIC acid (plant version of omega 3s compared to dha/epa from fish) which is anti-inflammatory. The ALA that is the rage in skincare is alpha-LIPOIC acid which is an anti-oxidant. I think a lot of sites mess this up because they are both abbreviated as ALA. There might be trace amounts of alpha-lipoic but mainly it is alpha-linolenic acid…which is great stuff. Just not the same. Sorry. I’m still using it on my face-with kefir for the lactic acid!
I am a massage therapist and was wondering if I could use these as a body scrub or body wrap?
oh Crunchy, how am I supposed to enjoy chia when all I can think of now are millions of poor fairies flying around “looking” for their lost eyes???? haha, get it, looking, because they can’t see. lol 🙁
when I started eating chia I started slowly with just a teaspoon at a time to allow my system to adjust (since I’d heard stories of people having gas and bloating).. I worked up to the amount I use now (1 TBSP in my Greek yogurt and 1 TBSP in my almond milk) every morning. This is my favorite way to get my daily dose.
Okay, so I tried your honey chia drink. This was my very first experience consuming chia seeds and I have a question. It is definitely uh. . . . “Cleansing”. I noticed a very interesting experience where all of my chia seeds seemed to reappear a couple of hours later. Basically, my body didn’t digest the seeds at all. It looked exactly the same coming out as it did going in. Am I still getting the fatty acids and minerals and what not or is there something special I need to do to help my body digest it better? I just want to be sure I’m getting all of those awesome nutrients even though the seeds appear like they aren’t being digested.
Humans don’t extract much nutrition from seeds consumed with the seed coat still on, so break it up by blending, pureeing, or mashing the seeds.
Crunchy Betty, Can I ask a slightly gross question? I’ve been drinking chia seeds (in warm water with honey or in fresh juice) daily since reading this post about a week ago. I happened to notice yesterday that they seem to be leaving my body in substantially the same shape in which they entered it. Am I getting any benefits? Do I need to be sure to chew them or something? THanks!
Love ’em. I grind 1 Tbsp of chia seeds with 2 Tbsp of flax seeds in my coffee grinder (to make them easier to digest), and drink it straight with 2 cups water in the mornings. It tastes nutty and feels gritty but I’m addicted! Sadly, I’m not allowed to have lemon water any more 🙁 I went a bit overboard drinking whole lemon and lime with water every day, and over time the acid eroded my tooth enamel and made my teeth hyper-sensitive. A warning to you all 🙁
I am both intrigued and intimidated. I purchased a pound, but I haven’t had the guts to do anything with them. What would be a good start that wouldn’t feel like I was eating snot or as you say “fairy eyes?”
I had the same problem with thinking of snot. YUCK! But then I started thinkiing of it as tapioca pudding. I usually eat them (soaked overnight) in oatmeal… I cook it pretty dry and add the chia seed (Tapioca 🙂 ) which kind of has the same feeling in my mouth as oatmeal. Hope that helps put a different mental picture.
what are fairy eyes to one are dinosaur eggs to another! thats what i first thought of when i discovered chia seeds. now they are one of my favorite things ever. except when one gets stuck in my permanent retainer……..
Thanks for the info! You’re not only informative, but incredibly Hysterical!!! Reading your article made me laugh out loud!
I know this is terribly nerdy, but I can not begin to tell you how excited I am to see that the kind of honey that you use is the same type that I use to wash my face! 🙂
Sounds cool .. can’t wait to try them!
I tried this and it was really watery……….did I do something wrong or is that how it was supposed to be? I liked drinking the leftovers though. Thanks.
I just bought my first bag of chia seed this week. Enjoying them in my smoothie as I type. Next time I will try them on my face.
I’ve never put Chia seeds on my face either. I’ll have to try this. I mix up Chia seeds, Wheat Bran, Ground Flax & Hemp seeds in a container & keep it in the fridge. Then my mixture is handy for smoothies, granola, oatmeal or whatever I want to put it in.
We also like the roasted brocoli or cauliflower here.
Great article, Chia is on my must get/try list!
I have been seeing these everywhere. Fairy Eyes! So funny!!! 🙂 I had Mamma Chia, and that was a really good drink. But I’m usually quite ok with funky textures. But I haven’t had them since. I can’t wait to try the scrub and eat them more!! 🙂
O.k. ch-ch-ch-chia seeds are going on “the list” I have… you know, the “Crunchy Betty says they’re great, so I know they must be, and need to try soon” list (right below the turmeric!). 🙂
I have to try that. The part on putting it on my face that is, because I am not sure I could do the swallowing one…
I sometimes sprinkle 1 tsp of chia seeds on my salad. With all the water content in my salad veggies, it must end up being the same… Ok, enough of the graphic vision. I also use them in baking.
And yes, try to roast broccoli, around chicken for instance. It really does not taste like broccoli. Disclaimer: I love broccoli – raw, steamed, roasted and even boiled!
I’m so happy to read this. I received two packets of chia seeds and looked at them just yesterday wondering what I should do with them. Then I put them back in the cupboard and promptly forgot about them until I read your post. Is it too late to start this morning ritual after I’ve already been up a while? I mean I drank my morning cup of coffee. Maybe I’ll make another cup and do this in the meantime. If I ever figure out how to get my husband to like broccoli, I’ll share the secret with you.
Oh I am so gonna try that face treatment. I have chia every day, these days in my morning smoothie. Thanks so much!
If you don’t like broccoli, have you tried broccoli sprouts? Apparently they have a ton of something called sulfurophane, WAY more than straight-up broccoli. I think they are supposed to be pretty easy to sprout at home and they are one of the best, most efficient cancer-fighting foods you can eat. They taste pretty mild to me though I still wouldn’t put them on my face. 😉
Hey! Crunchy Betty!
Concerning Chia seeds, I use a 1 liter bottle, fill it with water to the shoulder; with a funnel, add sweetener and add 3 Tbsp Chia seeds, swishing after each Tbsp. Then I fill the rest of the bottle with homemade fruit vinegar. (2-4 tbsp of apple cider vinegar would probably be equivalent. I keep shaking and stirring the bottle for a couple of minutes. Then I put it into the fridge. Sometimes I make 2 bottles just to have them handy. After ~1/2 hour I start drinking my concoction! Not only are the seeds good for us, the vinegar is also.
Thank you for the nutritional information. Thanks for telling everyone about Chia seeds!
The only time I tried chia seeds was in a case of protein bars. Those little buggers kept getting stuck in my teeth every time I ate one. Never bought that brand again. Maybe drinking them will propel them past my teeth and down my throat.
I just read this out loud in bed to my husband and he was cracking up! Now we are going to buy chia seeds because he is now so interested. High five! lol
My husband tried them first, soaked them and was appalled that they turned into “frog eggs.” Then I started experimenting with them. Pudding is definitely my favorite, and incorporating the pudding into a frozen “raw” pie with a banana “ice cream” layer on a nut-date crust is my second favorite.
Hmm, think I might go start some hemp milk/coconut milk chia pudding. Use some of it to wash my face and top the rest of it off with vanilla, walnuts and blueberries for breakfast. Hadn’t considered adding to my smoothies since I have so much stuff in there already but thinking it might be a very good addition to start making. Great egg replacement option although hubby comments on the crunchiness sometimes. The eyes crack me up but kinda true when you look at it closely.
Actually had roasted broccoli with olive oil and sea salt for dinner tonight, kids eat it up every time.
This is a fun post. My own favourite use for chia seeds is egg replacer, but I also eat it on its own as a breakfast! Just a few tablespoons of seeds, whatever condiments you like (I use raw cacao nibs, a bit of raw cacao powder, dried cranberries and a tsp of raw sugar), add hot water, wait 2 mins and VOILA! A great alternative to oatmeal to change up your routine.
I had never thought to put chia on my face. I will have to give it a go!
I love chia seeds! Every weekend I make a giant batch of quinoa and mix in about a cup of chia seeds. Then I add veggies like red peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, etc., and top with feta, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Voila! Healthy lunch for the week. Never thought to use them on my face – What an awesome idea! I’m also going to check out those pancake recipes… I am a pancake monster.
I love chia seeds in my oatmeal… although they do kinda weird me out (it’s true they look like eyes!). Maybe I’ll incorporate them into my diet more often, though – and of course put them on my face!
I bake my broccoli with oil, lemon, and garlic until it just starts to brown at the tips – delicious!
I’ve often seen “milled” chia for sale. Is there an advantage/ disadvantage to it being milled?
Girl, roast that broccoli! It becomes a completely different animal when you add dry heat to it. It’s one of my favorite treats. Yeah, I said treats.
Amen to this. Roasted broccoli is AMAZING. A little olive oil, a little garlic, a little high dry heat… I’ll take thirds.
right! i LOVE roasted broccoli! and i hate eating it raw! it’s soo delicious in the oven!
Erin @ From City to Farm
Heather :) :) :)
Hmm… I would love to give this a try. Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather 🙂 🙂 🙂
You’ll find me trying this tomorrow morning 🙂 I often make an overnight oatmeal with chia seeds, oats, almond mile and fruit. It was definitely a texture to “get used to” at first!
I drink aloe 🙂 If you can handle the texture of chia seeds floating around in water or juice, then aloe should be right up your alley. I don’t mind the texture of chia, but I find the little bits of aloe easier to drink down in a glass of juice or water. Really yummy!
Betty, if you’re anywhere near an Asian market, do pick some up and try a sip. It might also be at a health food store, too.
What about the fact that chia seeds give me horrible, gassy, painful bloating?!? OUCHIE!!!!
you may not be getting enough fiber in your diet, I would say, since this is typically the reaction of a low-fiber diet to the introduction of a high-fiber food. but I could be wrong, you might get tons of fiber for all I know, and this is just some other reaction.
I add chia to my kefir-talk about a health punch 😉
water or milk kefir? If it is water, pleeeeease let me know how you do it. 🙂
milk kefir..I add 1 heaping TB to the approx 3 c. of kefir in my fridge after I strain it (I culture my own kefir). I then can pour and add it to smoothies or sometimes I just add fruit juice concentrate if i’m feeling lazy.
Elizabeth (Greens & Seeds)
I felt the same way about broccoli for 33 years, then I had a simple steamed floret the other day and ya know what – it wasn’t so bad!
I must be a weirdo, because I *love* broccoli! I’m even making my husband a convert! Lol.
YAHOO!! I love chia…and praise it often, but honestly never thought of using it on my face…aaahhh that’s the lovely reminders I have you for…THANK YOU!! I’m definitely trying them on my face this morning…I have tons around as I buy them in bulk 🙂 Thanks for the tip lovely lady and hope all is well with you!!
I’m going to try adding ground chia seeds to my oatmeal/rice/sea salt/almond meal face scrub. Or maybe sub it for the almond meal? This article has motivated me to try chia in my food as well 🙂
OK at what point after consumption do these seeds start to sprout like my Shrek Chia Pet?!?! This is kinda scary… :
Yet another Heather
Never. You’re eating them, not growing them…just like every other nut and seed we eat that doesn’t grow in our stomachs.
I know this is a really old comment, but I’m responding anyway: your stomach is full of hydrochloric acid! Rest assured that the seeds will NOT be sprouting in there.
I love me some chia. I first tried them about 5 or 6 years ago and have been in love ever since. Every morning I drink a spinach-strawberry-banana-coconut milk-chia smoothie. So so good, and such a powerhouse way to start your day!
Did you know that gelled chia can get really, really rancid? I keep gelled chia in the fridge and the other day I was polishing off the last of it and it smelled AWFUL! Of course, it had been in the fridge for like 3 weeks. Guess I made way too much of it. LOL
Unfortuantely, the few times I’ve tried chia, I’ve gotten terrible stomach pains, and then threw-up for about an hour. I’m pretty sure I must be allergic. I wonder if I can still use it on my face.
That might be due to the fact that your body is not used to eating raw foods. You should increase your intake slowly.
I just got some, been a while, and I’m dying to gobble them up but I don’t want to kill my gut.
I did mix some with yogurt and pumpkin & flax granola. Yum! Tomorrow I’m gonna make some almond milk and chia pudding.
Recipe for the smoothie, pls, Jen? r u still drinking it every am?
Wow- talk about synchronicity! I made a smoothie with chia the other day and said “hey, I wonder if chia seeds would be good on my face…” So i tried it and I liked it!
By the way, I owe you credit because now every time I look at some kind of food, I think “Can I put this on my face?” Thanks Betty!
Thanks for posting this! I like to mix my chia with water and lime juice, but I really like the idea of adding honey! I will try that tomorrow. 🙂