Toast the oats, sunflower seeds, and peanuts in a 400 degree oven for 12-15 minutes or until slightly browned. Make sure you check them every few minutes and stir them around or they will burn. (keeping all of the ingredients hot helps when you combine the dry and sticky ingredients later.)
Melt brown sugar, honey, butter, vanilla, and salt over medium heat. The length of time you let it simmer will depend on how crunchy you’d like your bars. Personally I like them stiff but somewhat pliable, like the candy hardball stage, so I let it simmer until it hits about 250 degrees.
Mix all toasted ingredients and the hot mixture together in a medium to large bowl. Add in dried fruit. Stir well to make sure it is well coated.
Press into a well greased, glass 9×13 pan. If you don’t have a glass pan, place waxed paper inside the pan and grease that. Place a piece of greased waxed paper over the mixture and press mixture into the pan. (the mixture will be hot so keep your oven mitts on!)
Cut after the bars are cooled, but still slightly warm. You could cut them right in the glass pan, but I flip it over onto a cutting board and cut with a large knife. If you had to use waxed paper in the pan, just pull the whole thing out and cut.
Variations we like: Substitute 1 3/4 cups almonds for the 2 1/4 cup oats. This keeps the bars grain free. Using dried cranberries instead of raisins is fun as well. Adding in a Tbsp or 2 of carob powder give them a slight chocolate flavor. Peanut butter is also a great addition – I normally use about 1/3 cup and place it in the pan with the other wet ingredients. You can also use dried apples in place of the raisins and add in a couple teaspoons of cinnamon. The possibilities are endless!
Nourishing Notes: Use only unrefined sugars like honey and whole cane sugar (sucanat or rapadura) Make sure the nuts and seeds are properly soaked and dehydrated for better digestion and more nutrient absorption. When using dried fruit, make sure it’s ‘no sugar added’. Consume sparingly as these are rich in sugars.