Easy, Healthy Pizza Recipes for Seniors

pizza recipes

Do you ever think pizza is the best food ever? The most perfect blend of ingredients? It’s been said that there is no such thing as a bad pizza, and that sentiment is shared by 40% of Americans, who eat pizza at least once a week. According to The Washington Post, 350 slices of pizza are eaten every second in the United States. That might include piping hot pizza straight from the oven, a slice snatched greedily from the delivery box, or cold pizza straight from the fridge as a surprisingly satisfying breakfast.

But why is pizza so popular? It comes down to body chemistry and how we react to a certain blend of ingredients. Our bodies crave things that are sweet, complex, and rich. It’s not just a preference; it’s actual science. That’s because pizza toppings contain glutamate, which sparks excitement in the brain, which leads to the desire for more[1]. That’s why it can be tough to stop eating that pizza!

People have a wide variety of favorite toppings, including pineapple or extra anchovies. But what are the most popular? Cheese, by far, is the most popular topping, with 82% of Americans ordering it (and even adding extra). Others that round out the top five favorites include pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, and bacon[2].

Pizza can become even more important to older adults, and not just because it’s easy to make. Functional foods are defined as a “food or food ingredient that may provide a health benefit beyond the traditional nutrients it contains,” according to the Institute of Medicine.  The wide dietary variety to be found in a single slice of pizza can help boost all sorts of nutrients the body needs, aid in the absorption of those nutrients, and offer flavors that can help overcome the natural decrease in taste sensitivity that occurs in older adults[3].

Seniors need adequate nutrition – the consequences of not having enough nutrients in your diet are well-documented[4]. One of the more serious side effects is weakness and a loss of good mobility, which can lead to falls. Though falls can always be a serious problem, they are more so in the elderly, who can suffer from osteoporosis and other conditions that more easily lead to broken bones.

A medical alert pendant, wristband, or watch can help with the peace of mind the elderly need to continue moving around their homes and other places with confidence. If help is necessary, pressing the button on the medical alert device can summon help quickly. And if you opt for a medical alert system with fall detection, sensors within the device can automatically detect falls and contact our emergency response agents on your behalf – even if you can’t press the button.

So while you are making that delicious pizza in the comfort of your kitchen, make sure you’re wearing your button alarm – just in case!

Why Is Pizza So Good for You?

Before we dive into the reasons why pizza is a good idea, there is a word of caution: The best pizzas are those made from scratch, because those that are frozen or ready-made tend to be loaded with sodium, far too much oil, and fat from a variety of meats and cheeses that ultimately make these options pretty unhealthy. However, if you’re making a conscious effort to purchase a pizza with vegetable toppings or light amounts of cheese, that is much healthier. And of course, making your own pizza at home is the best way to control exactly what you’re putting into your body.

With that said, why is pizza so good for you?

·         Vitamin C. Most pizza has red sauce on it, and that means a powerhouse of vitamin C. It’s a booster for your immune system, helps repair your bodily tissues, and works well as an antioxidant. All of those things can help decrease the risk of chronic diseases[5].

·         Lycopene. Guess what else is found in that red sauce? Lycopene. Tomatoes are powerhouses of this antioxidant, which is known for lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. Healthline also points out that lycopene helps prevent against certain cancers, protects you from the sun, and improves heart health. The good news for pizza lovers is that the nutrient is better absorbed from cooked tomatoes than by fresh ones.

·         Vitamin K. Throw some spinach on that pizza for a touch of vitamin K, which works hard to help your blood circulation and helps with the uptake of calcium. Spinach can balance hormone levels and serotonin, which can help your mood. And it has been shown to help reduce cognitive issues. In fact, did you know spinach has at least 13 flavonoids in it, which help fight cancer[6]? Now you do!

·         Calcium. Consider the dairy in the cheese that you put on top of your pizza; it’s unusual to have a pizza without at least some cheese! There are also small amounts of calcium in the vegetable toppings on the pie. Calcium strengthens bones, helps your vital organs and nerves function properly, and contributes to overall health.

·         Protein. Did you know that the average slice of pizza contains 12 grams of protein[7]? It contains even more if you add lean meats to the mix, such as ham or chicken. Protein is essential to everything in our bodies, including building muscle, connective tissues, antibodies, enzymes, and even helping to create our blood.  

·         Fiber. We’ve been talking about the toppings, but what about that crust? Pizza crust is loaded with fiber, which is excellent for maintaining regular digestion. But that’s assuming the crust is made of whole grain flour – what if you used cauliflower for an even healthier option? That cuts down on the calories and provides fiber, potassium, and vitamins C, K, and B6, among others[8].

·         Beta-Carotene. Want to boost your antioxidants? Go for red peppers, which contain beta-carotene, which converts into vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A, also known as retinol, brings better eye health, healthy skin, and a boost for your immune system[9].

·         Manganese. This amazing nutrient gives you energy, and who doesn’t need more of that? One cup of pineapple gives you 100% of your daily recommended allowance of this nutrient, as well as a host of others, according to Live Science. So make some ham and pineapple pizza, no matter how many eye rolls you get from those who simply don’t believe fruit belongs on a pizza. Besides that, the pineapple can be sweet enough to curb your desire for dessert later. It’s a win no matter how you slice it.

·         Selenium. If you like mushrooms, you’re in luck. They provide a high dose of selenium, which is especially important for cancer-fighting, as it plays a key role against free radicals in the body. In fact, mushrooms are recommended as a way to fight prostate cancer in men. Selenium is also excellent for protecting thyroid hormone production[10].

This is just the start of what pizza can bring to the table. Rest assured you’re getting good nutrition with every slice, especially if you are loading it with your favorite vegetable toppings. While you’re enjoying that pizza, consider wearing an Alert1 Medical Alert. Why? A few reasons: Because you should wear it all the time, just in case you fall or some other emergency strikes without warning. But also because you want the peace of mind of knowing that you’re safe and secure. Everything is more enjoyable when you know that – even a slice of pizza.

Making the Best Pizzas: The Recipes

When you’re making pizza, you can go all-out and create the dough from scratch, or you can make life much easier on yourself by purchasing premade crusts. These are available in vacuum-sealed, shelf-stable options, or you can buy frozen or refrigerated pizza dough. Follow the directions on the label to determine how to thaw the dough (if frozen), how to properly cook it, and what the temperature of the dough should be when it comes out of the oven. This is especially important for thicker, deep-dish varieties.

No time to make a full pizza, or worried you won’t actually finish it and some of those good toppings will go to waste? Solve that problem with smaller pizzas that use surprising ingredients as a base.

English Muffin Pizza

This pizza is quite versatile and allows you to use up those little bits of veggies left over from other meals.

·         1 whole-wheat English muffin, toasted

·         2 tbsps. pizza sauce

·         About 3 tbsps. of your favorite pizza toppings

·         About 2 tbsps. of cheese (or more – we don’t judge)

Slather the English muffin with sauce, then top with the cheese and toppings. Pop it into the microwave for about 45 seconds, watching it closely to ensure the cheese melts but doesn’t burn. You can also put it in a toaster oven if you want your pizza browned and crispy.

Don’t have English muffins? You can use any sort of thick toast. Whole wheat or sourdough are good options. Just bear in mind that if the bread is too thin, the sauce will seep through and this sogginess could make the pizza fall apart.

Italian Bread Pizza

Want something more than an English muffin? Look to Italian bread for a savory base.

·         Italian bread loaf, split lengthwise into two, thick pieces

·         ¾ cup pizza sauce of your choice

·         A sprinkle of garlic powder or fresh garlic

·         1 cup mozzarella cheese (or a half-and-half blend of mozzarella and cheddar or provolone)

·         ¼ cup green peppers

·         ¼ cup mushrooms

·         ¼ cup other vegetable toppings

·         A sprinkle of Italian seasoning

·         A sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese

Toast the bread in a 350 degree oven or toaster oven until it is slightly brown and a little crispy on the edges. Remove it from the oven and top the toasted bread with sauce, cheese, and your choice of ingredients. Sprinkle the pizza with the seasoning, the return it to the oven until the cheese melts and becomes bubbly and slightly brown. Remove it from the oven again and immediately sprinkle parmesan on top.

Crescent Pizza

No bread in the house? No pizza dough in the fridge? If you have crescent rolls and lots of leftover veggies, you’ve got something really unique coming up.

·         2 cans crescent rolls

·         1 package of cream cheese, softened

·         ½ cup sour cream

·         1 tsp. dill weed

·         ¼ tsp. garlic powder

·         A sprinkle of pepper

·         ½ cup broccoli florets

·         ½ cup finely chopped tomatoes

·         ¼ cup carrot, grated

·         ½ cup cucumber, cut into small bits

·         ½ cup spinach, torn into small pieces

·         1 cup cheese of your choice

Start with the crescent rolls. Open the cans but don’t separate the rolls; instead, keep them in one full sheet and press them into a 9x13 greased pan. Make sure the crescent roll sheet reaches the edge of the pan. You might have to press them down and stretch them a bit to make it work.

Bake the crescent rolls according to the time and temperature on the package.

When the crescent rolls are done, mix the sour cream and cream cheese together. Spread it over the dough as it cools. Sprinkle the herbs on top, then load the pizza with the toppings – if you have something other than these listed, use them! Anything can go on pizza.

Add on one cup of cheese. Turn the broiler onto the lowest setting. Put the pizza in the oven, watching it closely until the cheese is just melted, which should only take about one minute. Cut into slices and enjoy!

Stay Safe While Getting Good Nutrition

Whether you order pizza from your favorite pizza joint, go to a restaurant to eat your pizza right there straight from the oven, or make pizza in the comfort of your own home, make sure you’re staying safe while you enjoy it with an on-the-go medical alert with fall detection. An emergency response solution can help ensure that you’re covered 24/7 by trained professionals, who can help you when you press the button. So go ahead and enjoy some pizza – it can actually be good for you!

As always, Alert1 wishes you good health and safety!