Add oats, almonds, and sunflower seeds to large baking sheet. If sunflower seeds or almonds are already roasted, don’t put them on the pan and reserve to add later.
Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until light golden brown, stirring occasionally. In the last 5 minutes of baking, add the shredded coconut and stir. Once everything is light golden brown and toasty, remove from oven and set aside.
In the meantime, add peanut butter, coconut oil, and maple syrup to a small saucepan. Warm over medium heat until melted, stirring to combine. Remove from heat when well-mixed and pourable - about 3-4 minutes. Set aside.
Add chopped dates, toasted oats, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit (optional) to a large mixing bowl and top with peanut butter mixture. Stir well to combine, using the spoon to mash the dates and make sure they’re evenly distributed - this will help the bars stick together. You can add more dates, as needed.
Transfer mixture to prepared 8x8 dish and use a spatula to spread evenly and pack down. Lay a piece of parchment paper on top and use a drinking glass (or similar shaped object) to press down firmly and pack the mixture in place. It’s important it’s packed well or they can crumble when cutting.
Place in freezer for 30 minutes to set. Cut into 9 even squares, or 10-12 bars (amount as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size).
For best freshness, store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks or in the freezer for up to 1 month. I prefer mine in the freezer, as they stay freshest that way.
*If your dates aren't sticky and moist, soak in hot water for 10 minutes then drain thoroughly. *Loosely adapted from my Healthy 5 Ingredient Granola Bars. *Nutrition information is a rough estimate.