Granola/Nut Bars

 These bars are a staple in my house, and they might just become in yours too! The best part about these bars is not that they’re extremely healthy and delicious, which is a rarity in and of itself, but they’re ridiculously easy to make. Plus they are perfect for on-your-way-out-the-door-didn’t-have-time-for-breakfast bars, or to slip into your child’s backpack for a snack. You can, as the title implies, make them into granola bars, but if you choose, they can be made solely of different types of nuts. In my haste, one day, I completely forgot to add the granola, and the nut-only bars were just as tasty. You can use whatever nuts and dried fruits you fancy, or have laying around the house. If you are unable to purchase raw nuts, substitute unsalted roasted nuts. And if you are not accustomed to eating raw nuts, maybe it’s time. Nuts retain more of their nutritional value and contain less saturated fat when in their raw state. As a former roasted nut eater, I totally get why people love roasted nuts: they taste good! But once myself and my children got accustomed to raw nuts, there was no turning back….. 

Preheat the oven to 250° F

1 14fl-oz can sweetened condensed milk (preferably organic)

2 ½ cups oats (not instant)

1 cup dried fruit (cranberries, cherries, mango, apricot, etc)

1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut (optional, but very yummy addition)

1 cup mixed seeds, preferably raw (pumpkin, sesame, sunflower)

1 cup preferably raw nuts (almond, cashew, hazelnut, peanut)

**If you choose to omit the granola, simply add 1 cup more of both seeds and nuts to your mix.

 Preheat the oven to 250° F

Oil or butter a 9 x 13-inch baking pan

Warm the condensed milk slowly, over low heat. Meanwhile, mix all the other ingredients together in a large bowl

Add the warm condensed milk to your nut mix, using a rubber spatula to fold and distribute through

Spread the mixture into the oiled/buttered pan and press down with the spatula to make the surface even.

Bake for approximately 45 minutes-1 hour.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

Cut into squares and allow to cool for another 5 minutes

Gently remove the squares from the pan with a spatula and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.

(I have left the bars to cool completely inside the pan after cutting, but they become rather difficult to remove once that happens. I think it’s better to gently remove them when they’re still a bit warm.)