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I have been without a kitchen scale for a while now, but a new one is on the way, having just been shipped yesterday. I got the same model again, hoping it was just a fluke. This time, I’ll be sure to keep the warranty card though!

It’s been a challenge. The temptation to purposeful sloppiness in measurement is even greater, and certainly easier, than when there is a digital readout indicting your indiscretion. Furthermore, even with due diligence, studies show we tend to underestimate our caloric intake. For example, this one from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. I do, however, have a lot of practice and a fairly consistent meal plan, so that helps.

Having been relegated to measure by volume and count alone, I had to devise ingenious tricks and somewhat shift my usual foods to those more easily quantified. One favorable creation emerging from these tactics was these bean muffins.

Each muffin represents 1/4 cup of cooked beans. I left them relatively plain in order to vary their flavors with spreads or to simply add water and make into a soup. One of my favorite toppings was the dessert-like addition of sliced banana and peanut butter. (I’m categorizing this post under chess as well because this idea could be a useful addition to my travel and snacking repertoire for tournaments.)

Speaking of doing things by volume, I wanted to mention the excellent book The Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan: Feel Full on Fewer Calories, which I have added to my recommendations page. Like CRON and E2L, it also espouses high nutrient – low calorie dense foods and explains how, by volume, they are a much better bargain than nutrient poor – energy dense foods. You can eat so much more and feel fuller on the former. The author, a researcher at the Food Lab at Penn State, has also written an accompanying cookbook, The Volumetrics Eating Plan: Techniques and Recipes for Feeling Full on Fewer Calories, but I caution, it is definitely not vegan.

The following pictorial brings home the point of her books by answering the question, What does 200 calories look like?

14 Responses to “Volumetrics”

  1. Jacqueline says:

    Hi Erin
    Would you share the ben muffin recipe? They look so yummy!


  2. Erin says:

    You’re going to laugh. This was mainly an exercise in portion control and portability, so they only contain beans. But, they sure look pretty, heh? :) There is certainly room for transforming this into a full-blown recipe though. For this batch, I intentionally kept it simple and clean to make calorie counting easy and to let the various toppings or applications guide the flavors. To this end, I cooked the heck out of a half pound of soup beans (i.e., a mix of many kinds) until everything was soft enough to blend into a puree (a couple hours). Then I divvied it up into the dozen muffins at about 1/4 Cup each and baked for 25-30 minutes at 350 F. I’ve since had them cut in half and toasted, topped with peanut butter and bananas or a hot sauce, or crumbled into salad or soup.

  3. Courtney says:

    What a great idea! Thanks so much…I wonder if they would also work with all one kind of bean? Such as navy beans? I will have to investigate…

  4. Jacqueline says:

    OH!!! Ha! That is so neat!
    I was wondering how you’d add a ‘muffin’ to water for soup :)


  5. Erin says:

    Thanks, Courtney. You could definitely use other legumes. I know I’m not going to limit myself to the mixed bag.

    Jacqueline, that is funny. I think if you knew soup would be your only intention with these, you might skip the baking and freeze instead.

  6. April says:

    Bean muffins!!! You are too cute!

    Chess players are weird. :) My college roommate was one. So was her friend Bobby Seltzer. When she couldn’t seem to locate him, she used to say she was searching for Bobby Seltzer.


  7. Robin says:

    Hi Erin,

    I’m not sure how I missed your blog all this time. Do you mind if I link to you?

    Those bean muffins look so much like chocolate muffins my mouth is watering just looking at them!

    I know your blog is mostly about food but on the chess front, I’m wondering if you can recommend any books for a novice chess player. I know the basics of how the pieces move around on the board but that’s about it. I have no great aspirations – I’d just like to beat my husband at chess just once. I’d also like to get my daughters interested in it. My sense is there aren’t enough women in the chess world.


  8. Marie says:

    what an amazing idea!! i had been thinking of trying this for a while but wasnt sure how to go about it… you just answered all my questions!! thank you!

  9. Erin says:

    Thanks all. I am pretty proud of this one. :)

    Robin, regarding a beginner chess book, there are actually quite a few good ones out there. Perhaps the Winning Chess series by Yasser Seirawan? The first in that collection is Play Winning Chess.

  10. Shaeleen says:

    Awesome recipe!! I just have one question…did you strain the beans before blending or did you blend some of the water into the “batter”? Thanks!

  11. Erin says:

    Thanks, Shaeleen. Indeed, I strained the beans first and only added back as much of the cooking liquid as was absolutely necessary for my blender. It was not a happy camper pureeing this thick concoction. LOL. Maybe the food processor would have been more appropriate. Of course, if you have a powerhouse, like the Vitamix, no worries.

  12. Kaye says:


    If you are buying the same scale, and it is EXACTLY the same, why don’t you wait a month, and send the OLD one back and get a refund??

    or is that a bit naughty?

  13. Erin says:

    LOL. Hadn’t even considered that little bit of deviousness. Too late now.

  14. [...] VolumetricsNote: The recipe there is in my vegan cookbook. [...]

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