Add your oats and almonds to a bare baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until slightly golden brown.
Add dates and dried fruit to a food processor and mix until small bits remain or a ball forms — ~20 seconds. It should be quite tacky / sticky.
Add the toasted oats and almonds to a large mixing bowl along with the date-fruit mixture and the seeds. Set aside.
In a small saucepan over low heat, warm maple syrup, almond butter, and oil, stirring until creamy and smooth. Then remove from heat, add a pinch of salt and vanilla (optional), and stir again to combine.
Pour into the large mixing bowl and then mix, breaking up the date-fruit mixture to disperse throughout (option to add 1 more handful of dried cherries to the mix). Use a spoon or your hands to mix thoroughly. It should be very tacky and hold its shape when squeezed between two fingers. If too dry or crumbly, add a bit more maple syrup and/or almond butter and continue mixing.
Transfer to the prepared 8×8-inch dish and use a wooden spoon or your hands to disperse into an even layer. Cover with parchment and press down with something flat, such as a drinking glass, to get the mixture packed really tightly. This will prevent the bars from being crumbly. Chill in the freezer for 15-20 minutes to harden.
Remove bars from dish and chop into 12 even bars (as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size). Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 2 months. They travel fine if taking on-the-go, though they keep their shape best right out of the freezer or refrigerator.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with tart cherries and almond butter and without optional ingredients. *Prep time includes cooling.