*We like 1/2 cup each dried cranberries, chopped dried apricots, chopped pecans, sunflower seeds, and coconut. Walnuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, dried cherries or apples, or even chocolate chips would all be delicious as well.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan.
1) Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts.
2) In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter or oil, syrup or honey, and water.
3) Toss the wet ingredients with the dry until the mixture is evenly crumbly.
4) Spread in the prepared pan, shaking the pan to evenly cover the bottom and patting down gently
5) Bake the bars for 25 to 30 minutes, until they're golden brown around the edges.
6) Remove them from the oven, loosen the edges, and cool for 5 minutes.
7) Use a knife (or bench knife) to cut the bars while they're still warm in the pan. Carefully remove warm bars from the pan, and cool on a rack. Alternatively, remove from the pan before cutting into bars; it helps to cut in half first, then loosen the bottom of each half with a turner/spatula before turning out onto a sheet of parchment to cut into bars.
8) Wrap bars individually to store; or place in a single layer on a plate, and cover with plastic; or store in layers with parchment in between. In humid weather, it's best to store bars in the refrigerator. They also freeze well.