These granola bars are the bee's knees — not just because they're chewy, nutty and delicious, but also because the ingredients are easy to have on hand at all times, so I stock up and never run out. They're also infinitely adaptable depending on what nut butter/chocolate/seed/dried fruit combo I'm into that week and they're easy enough to make with a baby in my arms. Some of my favorite combinations of mix-ins include peanut butter with dark chocolate, cashew butter with dried apricots, almond butter with white chocolate (bonus points if it's that white chocolate from Trader Joe's that has the sprinkles in it!), and tahini and halva (and a little rosewater). Once you have the basic formula down (oats + a can of condensed milk) you can go wild with your own creations! The world is your homemade granola bar oyster.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8- by 8-inch baking dish with enough parchment paper so that it comes up the sides and hangs over by 1 inch.2.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the condensed milk, nut or seed butter, vanilla and salt. Add the oats, seeds and nuts and mix to combine (alternatively, you can add the nuts in the next step by pressing them into the top of the granola bars when you add the chocolate chips).3.
Scrape into the baking dish and spread it out evenly. Press the chocolate chips and dried fruits (if using) into the top. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges.4.
Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes then remove to a rack to cool completely. Chop into bars. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days, in the refrigerator for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a few months.