carrot cake bran muffins
I have a pilot in my life and with that comes a whole set of challenges especially during the whole pandemic. For any of y'all that know us, you know that we are super cautious - generally and especially since I have an autoimmune condition. This means that I don't leave the house unless it's absolutely necessary and when we do, we take all the precautions.
While the idea of him going and flying was super scary when the pandemic first hit, as time went on, we both saw that he was as safe as he could be considering. First, airplanes have an incredible air system where fresh air is circulated in the cabin every few seconds. Also, if you really research how many people have gotten sick on airplanes versus everywhere else, you would be as surprised as I was how low that number actually is even with the plane capacities still being fairly high. Add into that equation that the Chicago airport has allowed short term parking for employees so that they don't have to take public transportation and can walk directly into the airport without coming into contact with anyone. They also have their own dedicated security lines where they can walk right through with minimal to no contact with TSA. At that point he literally walks right into the aircraft to the cockpit and besides the other pilot, they are isolated from all the passengers.
Of course, I pack him plenty of sanitation wipes and he diligently wipes down all the surfaces as well as keeps hand sanitizer with him at all times. The same for any of the hotels that he stays in overnight. It all must be working because he has been flying fairly extensively for the last few months and we are both still fine. One of the other things that we do for an added precaution is that for his trips with multiple days/nights away from home, I pack him food in a small cooler as all the hotels that he stays at have fridges and microwaves. This way, he can avoid restaurants and deliveries as much as possible. I will periodically post the preparations that I make for him for these trips. As I posted on Instagram, here is this trips meals:
There's a lot happening in there which is the goal to provide him with some variety so that he doesn't get bored. The other challenge is that some flights he literally does not have the time (nor do we want him to) get off the plane to grab food. So I have to come up with some easy to eat options that he can eat directly in the cockpit in between multiple daily flights.
I will post individual recipes this week but the one that I want to share with y'all today is the muffins that I packed for him. I love muffins because I can freeze them and by the time he is ready to snack on them, they are full defrosted and ready to eat. Plus when he has the awful super early flights on some days, it is easy to grab and go with some coffee. I try and switch up the flavors for these as well and try to keep them on the healthy side. As such, I came up with this concoction and he really enjoys them. This muffin, is not super sweet but it is super flavorful and for those that love carrot cake as much as he does, this is a much healthier way to indulge!
So perfect. If you prefer a sweeter muffin, you can certainly increase the sugar in this recipe. Instead of that, I added plenty of plump raisins so that you get bursts of natural sweetness throughout. There are walnuts as well for added energy and fat to keep him satisfied for a longer period. An additional extra that I added was a honey cream cheese filling to mirror that of the iconic cream cheese frosting that you find with carrot cake. Yum. I mean...yummmm. You can certainly eliminate that if you want but why would you want to?
Fairly simple and this yield a dozen muffins. I then let them cool completely and put 4 muffins in a ziplock bag and froze them. I put a frozen bag for each of his trips. As I add new flavors, I do the same and switch them up from trip to trip. Easy!
Carrot Cake Bran Muffins with Cream Cheese Filling
1 1/2 cups wheat bran
1 cup buttermilk (or make your own really quickly by adding 1 Tbsp of lemon juice and letting it sit for 5 to 10 minutes until it thickens a bit and curdles a little)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar (add more if you'd like a sweeter muffin)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all flour (I did a 1:1 mix of wheat flour and all purpose but you can use what you like)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped roughly
1/2 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
1 Tbsp honey
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners or spray a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, combine the wheat bran and the buttermilk. Let it sit for 10 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed.
In a large bowl, combine the oil, egg, brown sugar, and vanilla. Add the soaked wheat bran mixture and stir to combine. Add the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir just until combined - you will still see some flour streaks in it. Don't over mix!
Add in the carrot, raisin and walnuts. Gently fold it into the batter just until everything is incorporated...at this point all the flour has been mixed in.
Mix the honey and cream cheese together in a separate small bowl.
Divide the batter between the 12 muffin cups evenly - fill them only HALFWAY if you are adding the cream cheese filling. Spoon a tablespoon of the cream cheese filling into each cup.
Add the other half of the batter on top of the filling to the top of each muffin tin.
Bake in the preheated oven until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 15-20 minutes. Mine only took 15 minutes - check at that point and add more baking time if needed.
Remove the muffins onto a cooling rack.
These tastes like a marriage between a bran muffin and carrot cake with layers of flavors...all without the guilt! Just a great way to justify eating dessert for breakfast or for a snack in my opinion! Hope that you guys get a chance to try this recipe and that you enjoy it!