Zero Waste and Allergy-Friendly “Clif” Bars

I LOVE the taste of Clif bars. Do you know what I don’t love about them? Gluten – I’m really sensitive to gluten and my entire body gets achy for several hours after having gluten. Before starting with my journey to zero waste, I’d occasionally have a “Kind” bar, but overall I’m not all that into bars – If I need a snack I’d rather grab a peach.

My boyfriend on the other hand, has no issues with gluten (the lucky bastard), and whenever he’s short on time, he’ll just grab a Clif bar or two to keep him going for another few hours. He’s especially prone to reaching for a “Clif” when we’re on the road. They’re a safe choice for him, since he’s allergic to dairy and the peanut butter bars are dairy free.

Not willing to deprive my partner of his Clif bars, I needed to come up with a solution! When living zero waste, the general course of action is to just DIY it. So I decided to make “Clif” bars at home from bulk ingredients. I needed them to taste *at least as good* as the original – and preferably better.

After some experimentation, this is the recipe I’ve come up with – it’s inspired by the “Homemade Choc Chip Clif Bars” recipe from Jessica over at These taste incredible, better than Clif, but similar enough to Clif, so my guy doesn’t feel deprived… that is, if he’s able to get his hands of a bar, because I love them so much, I’ve been eating at least one a day, since I first made them a few nights ago and we’re almost out of bars already. Woops.

Here are my homemade “Clif” bars. If you have a shop with a decent bulk section around, you can make these zero-waste!

Standard version – These are gluten-free, dairy-free and nut-free:

1 cup sunflower seed butter (make from scratch from sunflower seeds (link), or buy in a glass jar with metal lid)
1/2 cup honey*
1.5 cups crisp rice cereal
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup mixed dried berries
1/4 cup quick oats
a tablespoon of chia seeds
some extra coconut + cornstarch for dusting

*substitute maple syrup if you’re making this for toddlers (why toddler’s aren’t supposed to have honey – link)

Pea-nutty version:
Substitute peanut butter for the sunflower seed butter and chopped peanuts for the dried berries

Chocolatey version:
Substitute semi-sweet chocolate chips for the berries


Steps to “cook” up the bars, prep time about 15 min:

1. Melt the seed (or nut) butter on low heat in a small saucepan, mix in the honey and stir until it’s blended together.

2. Remove from the stove, let it cool for a minute, then throw in ALL the dry ingredients and stir until everything is combined.

3. Spread it out onto a non-stick surface. I like to use a glass oven dish. Put it in the freezer for 5 minutes or so.

4. If you are using chocolate chips, mix them in with the mixture now. Make sure everything has cooled down enough, so the chips won’t melt. If you aren’t using chips, just skip this step.

5. Shape up into a long rectangular shape, chop into bar-sized pieces. Freeze again for 4-5 minutes to make sure the bars settle into their shape.

6. (optional) – Coat the bars on both sides with shredded coconut and pat in some cornstarch to keep them from being super sticky. They will look oddly white for a moment, but the oils in the seed or nut butter will soak up all of the starch pretty quickly.


I like to store these bars in the fridge in some airtight stainless steel containers or mason jars, and I leave one or two out on the counter. They’re pretty nice to eat straight from the fridge, but I prefer softer bars, so I eat mine after they’ve been out at room temperature for a few hours. These will stay fresh for at least a week.

 What packaged food substitutes have you come up with so far?


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