1/4 cup maple syrup, can also use agave nectar or honey
1/4 cup sunflower butter, or creamy peanut butter or almond butter
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips, optional
1/4 cup dried cranberries, optional
Line an 8x8-inch pan with parchment paper or plastic wrap. (Leave long ‘handles’ so you can easily lift out the finished bars.).
Toast your oats and chopped nuts in a 350°F oven for 13-15 minutes or until slightly golden brown.
Finely chop or process dates in a food processor until small bits remain (about 1 minute). It should form a dough-like consistency and come into a rough ball.
Place toasted oats, almonds and processed dates in a large mixing bowl. Add sunflower seeds and Flax Chia and set aside.
Warm maple syrup and nut butter in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring. Pour over oat mixture and then mix thoroughly using a spoon or your hands.
Transfer to prepared pan. Cover with more parchment paper or plastic wrap and press down with something flat, such as a book or cutting board, to get them really packed tight. This will help keep them from being breaking apart.
Chill in the fridge or freezer for 15-20 minutes to harden.
Remove bars from pan and chop into 10 even bars. Store in an airtight container for up to a few days. They can be kept in the refrigerator to retain freshness longer.
Notes: If your dates don’t feel sticky and moist, soak them in hot water for 10 minutes, and drain before processing. The dates’ moisture helps hold the bars together.
Optional Additions: try your favorite dried fruit such as banana chips, figs, pineapple in place of cranberries and/or chocolate chips; etc.