A bowl of roasted pecans with rosemary, olive oil and sea salt is definitely more interesting than a can of roasted nuts.


The big question for some of us on Super Bowl Sunday isn't who will win or which pricey TV commercial scores big with viewers. We want to know what there is to eat - and there better not be any fumbles.

Here are two food strategies to help you land that proverbial touchdown while family and friends chow down. And both of these winning plays can be executed mostly in advance so you can sit and enjoy the game too.

• Plan a snack attack. Sure, you can go out and pick up bags of chips and jars of dips, salsas or spreads. It's a popular choice: 32 percent of Americans chose this as their favorite Super Bowl snack last year in a Harris Interactive poll conducted for Supervalu Inc. Yet there is something hackneyed about a menu culled from the supermarket aisles. Why not make your own snacks?

"They're bright, crisp and fresh," says Cynthia Nims, author of "Salty Snacks" (Ten Speed, $16.99). "You can vary recipes at home so that you can have many dozens of snacks that you can't find in the snack aisle."

• Keep it clean (and healthy). "Clean" has become one of the year's buzzwords in cookbook publishing as authors offer dishes that not only taste good but are good for you.

"No matter how you eat, eat clean," is the slogan of "The Clean Plates Cookbook" (Running Press, $20), by Jared Koch with Jill Silverman Hough. That includes "great snacks that are nutrient-dense," Koch wrote in an email. "Because of those nutrients, your body will be satiated and actually crave fewer extra calories. That's a win-win."

Rosemary pecans

Makes: 3 cups

"Don't let the simplicity of this recipe fool you, these nuts are simultaneously salty, rich, crunchy and deliciously complex, thanks to the rosemary," writes Jared Koch in "The Clean Plates Cookbook."

Arrange 3 cups raw pecan halves on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees until brown and fragrant, about 12 minutes. Transfer while still warm to a bowl; add 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary and fine sea salt to taste, tossing to coat. Return pecans to baking sheet to cool.

Deviled ham with pickled peppers

Makes: About 1 1/4 cups

The flavor will be best if made at least 2 hours in advance; can be prepared up to 3 days ahead.

Combine 8 ounces thick-cut ham, diced, and 2 tablespoons chopped jarred pickled peppers in a food processor; pulse until finely chopped. (The mixture should be somewhat coarse, not a smooth puree.)

Add 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar and 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard. Pulse to blend. Taste for seasoning, adding a little vinegar or mustard to taste. If dry, add a little mayonnaise for a spreadable texture.

Transfer to a serving bowl. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve. Serve at room temperature with crackers.

From "Salty Snacks" by Cynthia Nims.