Apple Bran Muffins and 𝛼1-antitrypsin Deficiency

Wait, say what? I just finished my second whole week of med school? Man, oh man, I’ve completely lost track of time.

Our disease-of-the-week this week was 𝛼1-antitrypsin deficiency. It’s a genetic disorder that causes serious lung and liver disease. In a healthy person, 𝛼1-antitrypsin prevents one of the enzymes secreted by white blood cells from digesting lung tissue once it’s eaten up all the inhaled pathogens. In a person with alpha-1, though, the antitrypsin gets lodged in the liver and can’t get to the lungs (even if it does get there, it’s deformed, so it can’t work properly). This means that those normally helpful enzymes begin to break down lung tissue and the patient can develop emphysema, shortness of breath, and cirrhosis of the liver. There’s no cure, only methods of minimizing complications. Studying this disorder made me really think about how many things we so often take for granted, like breathing easily. Such a simple thing, but it’s truly an every moment blessing.

Speaking of blessings, Friday afternoons are a beautiful thing. A gift from God, really. After getting out of lecture at noon, I ate my lunch on campus and worked through a chunk of enzyme kinetics problems. Then I came home and treated myself to a run and some baking! My favorite. 🙂

My dad has been making these apple muffins since I was a little kid. I love them! They’re dense and hearty and full of good-for-you stuff. The original recipe doesn’t call for a streusel topping, but I have the hardest time following a recipe exactly (my inner DIYer gets all cranky).  A streusel topping can only make a good thing great, right? (Hopefully my dad won’t be upset that I’m taking liberties with his recipe. 🙂 )

Apple Bran Muffins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix or sift together in a small to medium bowl:

  • 1 1/4 c. flour
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 c. sugar

Mix in a large bowl:

  • 1 c. bran flakes or raisin bran
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (oatmeal)
  • 1 1/4 c. milk
  • 1 egg (beaten)

While the cereal mixture soaks and softens, peel and shred/grate 2 (regular) or 3 (small) apples into the bowl with the cereal mixture. *If you’re a poor med student, like me, and don’t own a grater, just finely dice your apples.* Mix the shredded apples into the cereal mixture well. Add the flour mixture to the cereal/apple mixture and mix just until combined. Spoon into 12 greased muffin-pan cups.

Rebellious Streusel Topping:

  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 3 Tbs brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

(Note: all of those measurements I just made up, so take them with a grain of salt) Crumble ingredients together and sprinkle over muffins before baking.

Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 20-25 minutes.

Watching the latest episode of NY Med while the muffins are baking is completely optional.

 Breaking one of these beauties open and slathering it with butter while it’s fresh out of the oven, however, is not.


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