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The best game-day foods, whether you’re watching one or not

Oven-baked nachos
Oven-baked nachos are the perfect game-day food to customize however you like.
(Ben Mims / Los Angeles Times)

Whether you plan to watch the Super Bowl on Feb. 7 or not (confession: I’ll check in for the halftime show, but that’s all), it’s always a great excuse to toss the green juice and cauliflower rice for the day and indulge in some fun food that we all probably haven’t had for the past year, since we can’t go to the bars and restaurants that serve them. I already know what I’ll be eating, and that’s these ridiculously easy oven-baked nachos. They come together in less than 40 minutes from start to finish with plenty of moments built in for taking swigs of chilled beer while you cook. But if you want more inspiration, here are some more great game-day treats to make for the main event, whether you’re watching the game or a movie or an endless procession of YouTube videos.

Chicken wings are as essential to game-day feasting as nachos, and while buffalo-style are classic, I prefer wings bathed in a sticky-sweet soy and ginger marinade that balances all that rich, crispy skin. As for dips, you can go the classic onion-sour cream route — don’t forget the ruffled chips! — or make this vegan spinach artichoke number that frees the veggies from all that heavy dairy and instead adds creaminess with blended Marcona almonds.

While I won’t be having guests over for the big event, I will be making my favorite firecracker snack mix because it needs a repeat appearance every couple of months and is ideal to pick at in small portions (except you will end up eating the whole bowl if you’re not careful). And for dessert, I love these classic fudgy brownies studded with walnuts and semisweet chips from the bag, none of that fancy chopped stuff. This food is easy to make and easy to enjoy, a welcome distraction when you need a break from having to plan one more balanced meal.

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Ginger soy chicken wings

Time 1 hour
Yields Serves 4 to 6 appetizer portions

Fry the wings ahead of time, if you like, then simply reheat them in the sweet-sticky sauce when ready to serve.

Homemade Sour Cream and Onion Dip

Time 15 minutes
Yields Makes about 1 1/4 cups

Make this recipe early in the day so the onions have time to marry with the sour cream by kickoff.

Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip

Time 15 minutes
Yields Serves 6 to 8

The tangy artichokes and verdant spinach add just the right amount of veggies to this creamy dip base made with Marcona almonds.

Firecrackers

Time 1 hour
Yields Makes 10 cups

Chile flakes, nutritional yeast and garlic powder give these addictive snack crackers an umami punch.

Double Chocolate Fudgy Walnut Brownies

Time 1 hour
Yields Serves 12

Chewy, tender and studded with crunchy walnuts and tiny pools of chocolate chips — the classic brownie you really want.

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