In Rude Health: dairy-free drinks with a difference

In Rude Health: dairy-free drinks with a difference

by Great British Chefs 13 January 2020

Since 2005, Rude Health has been at the forefront of the healthy, plant-based food movement, creating cereals, snacks and dairy-alternative drinks using only the very best, all-natural ingredients. We take a look at what makes the range stand out from the crowd.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews as well as access to some of Britain’s greatest chefs. Our posts cover everything we are excited about from the latest openings and hottest food trends to brilliant new producers and exclusive chef interviews.

It all started around the breakfast table. Fed up with the mueslis on offer in the shops, Nick and Camilla Barnard decided to make their own, eschewing the high levels of sugar, preservatives and artificial flavourings in favour of all-natural, healthier ingredients. What they created didn’t just taste amazing – it happened to be good for you, too. Wanting to share what they’d done with the rest of the UK, they set up Rude Health and began selling their Ultimate Muesli to a few local health food shops and delis.

Fifteen years later, they’re at the helm of one of the UK’s food and drink success stories, selling a range of cereals, snacks, crackers and dairy-alternative drinks. They might have outgrown the kitchen table, but Rude Health’s ethos remains the same: make great products by using only the best ingredients and avoid anything artificial and refined.

Following the muesli, Rude Health started to produce porridge, cereals, granola, rice crackers and vegetable-based snack bars. But in 2013, when the company launched its own dairy-alternative drinks, it kicked the business into overdrive.

Look in any supermarket today and you’ll find fridges full of dairy-free milk alternatives, but as little as five years ago the pickings were much slimmer. Rude Health predicted the rise of increasingly conscious consumers and plant-based diets at exactly the right time, hitting shop shelves just as more and more of us were looking to cut down on animal products and discover that dairy-alternative drinks – when done right – were fantastic alternatives to traditional cow’s milk.

What sets Rude Health’s drinks apart, however, is the approach to what goes in each carton. Rather than relying on thickeners, gums, added sugar and other questionable additives, the Rude Health ethos means each drink is entirely organic and contains simple, familiar ingredients which make them all naturally froth-able for coffee. Many of the drinks manage to retain a silky, thick texture thanks to the organic rice blended into the mixture, which also adds a a natural sweetness, eliminating the need for added sugars. And with thirteen different flavours available (including two cartons specifically made for coffee and chocolate-flavoured drinks), there’s plenty to choose from.

The entire range of Rude Health dairy-alternative drinks covers the spectrum of nuts, as well as oats and tiger nuts (which technically aren't actually nuts!)
All the drinks make great additions to hot drinks, and can be frothed just like cow's milk thanks to the natural, organic combination of ingredients

Take Rude Health’s Almond Drink, for example. It’s made with just five ingredients (spring water, organic rice, organic Italian almonds, organic cold-pressed sunflower oil and sea salt), managing to create a wonderful texture and flavour without any need for additives. And if you want something even purer, then there’s Rude Health’s Ultimate Almond Drink – made with nothing more than water and almonds. What’s more, the company’s dedication to sustainability means it’s made with Sicilian almonds rather than the more ubiquitous Californian, which require much less water to grow.

This simplicity can be found across the whole range. The Coconut Drink (made with just four ingredients) is naturally creamy and packed with nutrients, while the gluten-free Oat Drink (also just four ingredients) is thick and flavourful with plenty of soluble fibre to maintain a healthy heart. The Tiger Nut Drink was released a little later in 2017, offering the UK a taste of horchata, a drink enjoyed across Valencia in Spain. If that isn’t enough to get you started, there are dairy-alternative organic drinks made from hazelnuts, brown rice and cashews, too, which all taste exactly like the simple ingredients they’re made from.

This gamut of different flavoured drinks makes them perfect for including in recipes, too. They make a great substitute for cow's milk within smoothies, and they are also amazing additions to soups, curries and plant-based béchamels. The Coconut Drink works incredibly well in a silky pumpkin and coconut curry, for example, while the Hazelnut Drink is an obvious choice for chocolatey plant-based desserts. We’ve even created two savoury recipes using two of Rude Health’s best-selling drinks – a wintery moussaka with a béchamel made using the Almond Drink, and a leek and mushroom pie enriched with a creamy Oat Drink-based sauce.

The success of Rude Health’s drinks range doesn’t mean Nick and Camilla have stopped developing new products, with over seventy now on shop shelves. Since 2013, they’ve come up with smoothie oats, sprouted flours and single-ingredient light cereals, with no doubt many more on the horizon: something that we’re certain will keep us in rude health for many years to come.