Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Red Velvet Brownies, National Arthritis Week and Time for Tea

The fourth ever National Arthritis Week is just around the corner. From the 12-18th the various charities, support groups and professional organisations around the UK will all be doing their bit to raise awareness about arthritis.

Obviously I'm biased but I think it's a great idea. Arthritis affects 1 in 5 people in the UK but remains something of an unglamorous cause. Osteoarthritis is on the increase as life expectancy increases and rates of overweight and obesity rise. The daily pain of living with the condition causes immense suffering yet, too often people are told it is just something they have to put up with or an inevitable part of growing older. 

Similarly auto-immune arthritis is poorly understood: I still get told I'm too young for it or have I tried emu oil/cutting out peppers/doing yoga. There are some amazing new treatments around now and some exciting breakthroughs being made but auto-immune arthritis can still affect everything you do and not just your joints. When I was pregnant I was actually amazed by how few medical professionals understood the condition or the medications and I often felt like I was having to teach them - which isn't something you particularly want to do when you are a mess of raging hormones!

I'll post a bit about all the different awareness raising activity going on but I wanted to start by blogging about Arthritis Care's Time for Tea campaign. They basically want you to get together, have a natter, gobble some cake and raise some money for the work they doing supporting people with arthritis. I remember phoning Arthritis Care's Helpline before I was first diagnosed - I was confused, in pain and slightly at my wit's end. The lovely lady I spoke to gave me some information and basically told me to refuse to leave the GPs until I got referred! Thanks to that advice I got seen by an excellent team and started on proper treatment. So, to show my gratitude, I'm holding my own Time for Tea party and serving these brownies.

It's the easiest brownie recipe ever! There is no melting of chocolate, cracking of eggs or beating butter, which makes it a doddle to make even on a flare-day. Simply stir all the ingredients together and bake for an impressive and delicious red velvet brownie.

Instead of measuring the milk and oil out in a jug, you can pour weigh them directly into the mixing bowl: 1ml of milk is the same as 1g. I’ve not specified the amount of food colouring as I have found red food dyes differ massively - I suggest you add a few drops and give the mixture a stir and then add more as necessary. You want a good strong red colour as the intensity fades in the oven.

You could also make a raffle prize to raise money for ‘Time for Tea’ by mixing all the dry ingredients for these brownies together in a nice jar. Tie a ribbon around the jar and add a label with instructions to add oil, milk and bake.


220g plain flour
150g caster sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa
1tsp salt
200ml milk (you could use almond milk for a vegan cake)
75ml sunflower or rapeseed oil 
1.5tsp baking powder
150g chocolate chips or buttons 
Red food colouring 

Makes 16 brownies

Put the flour, sugar, salt, cocoa and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Stir the dry ingredients together a few times and then pour in the oil, milk and food colouring. Give everything a good mix and then finally stir in the chocolate chips.

Pout the mixture into a greased 20x20cm baking tin and cook for 25-30 minutes or until the top is shiny and slightly cracked. Remove from the oven and let the brownies cool in the tin for 20 minutes before slicing.

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