A Lifelong Passion For Cooking

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They know food in the Bedsworth house. Diane Bedsworth is the director of food and nutrition services at Payson Regional Medical Center. Gary Bedsworth is an award-winning chef, retiring after more than 40 years in the hospitality industry.

But they still like to learn about food, especially Gary, who regularly judges the regional Best Young Chef Rotisseurs Competition and gets to see the coming trends in foods.

One of the next things he and his wife are going to try is a new way to make mashed potatoes, using olive oil instead of butter and both roasted and fresh garlic for seasoning.

"Usually the garlic in garlic mashed potatoes is just roasted, because the fresh might give too much of a bite, so I'm looking forward to seeing how the two are together," Bedsworth said.

When he is not traveling to judge high-level culinary competitions, Bedsworth said he likes to give back to the community.

The couple has made their home in Payson for nearly two years, moving here from Minnesota. However, they are former residents of Tucson and Gary Bedsworth worked for Samaritan Health Care System in both Phoenix and at the Tucson Medical Center as system director of food and nutrition services.

He serves as a volunteer chef at PRMC and participates in the American Association of Retired Persons free tax preparation service for seniors and moderate-income families. He is on the steering committee for the Northern Gila County Fair, serving as superintendent of the domestic sciences contests in 2005 and in a similar capacity for the 2006 fair. He is a member of the High Country Xeriscape Council and president of the Scottsdale Bailliage of the Chaine des Rotisseurs, the oldest and one of the most prestigious gastronomic organizations in the world, founded in 1248.

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Gary Bedsworth is president of the Scottsdale Bailliage of the Chaine des Rotisseurs.

Most recently, Bedsworth participated in the Eighth Annual Women's Wellness Forum, presenting a program on cooking for one or two people.

The idea for the program originated through work with two different focus groups, Bedsworth said.

"With the first group, only one or two of them actually cooked. In the second group, members of the (PRMC) Senior Circle, a good percentage didn't cook either," he said.

Most had spent a large part of their lives cooking for their families and just did not want to do it any longer. Now, they either go to area restaurants or take advantage of the ready-made meals that can be purchased at area grocery stores.

To give another option, Bedsworth decided to do his program "Cooking for U or 2."

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Gary Bedsworth brought more than 40 years of experience in the hospitality and health care industries to his program "Cooking for U or 2" at the March 25 Women's Wellness Forum.

Researching the subject, he discovered the Reiman Publication's "Taste of Home" magazine spinoff, "Cooking for 2," a magazine that offers basic recipes designed for one or two people.

"It's a good source with very, very basic recipes," he said.

Additionally, he told participants in the program, "Cooking for 2":

  • Is the only magazine he has found that is specifically formatted to address the needs of "empty nesters" or those, specifically seniors, who have a household of one or two people.
  • It contains relatively easy-to-follow recipes sized for a limited household.
  • The recipes are coded by "At-a-Glance Icons" indicating if a recipe is quick to prepare, designed to be "light," diabetic-friendly or it can be made even less fattening.
  • Nutritional analysis of all recipes is provided.

With his background in the health care industry, Bedsworth offered a series of tips on eating in a more healthy way. Among his suggestions:

  • Increase fiber in your diet from 28 to 35 grams per day, most people get only 12 to 15 grams.
  • Start the day with oatmeal, fresh fruits, high fiber cereals with six or more grams per serving or whole grain breads with three or more grams of fiber.
  • Include a fresh vegetable with lunch or dinner.
  • Use fresh, raw vegetables for snacks -- cut out the salt and high fat dips.
  • Cut sodium intake to 2300 milligrams or less (a level teaspoon of salt equals 2400 milligrams of sodium). To reduce sodium consumption, don't add extra salt at the table and limit the amount added during cooking. Use fresh products when possible. Read labels and purchase items with less than 350 milligrams of sodium -- many canned and frozen items have 800 to 1200 milligrams per serving.
  • Limit fat and calorie intake by trimming meat portions to three or four ounces. Cut off exterior fat before cooking. Cook in a nonstick pan with little or no fat. Leave the butter off the bread and pancakes and use reduced calorie jelly, syrup or pureed fruit.

Bedsworth also shared some sanitation tips to make cooking healthy: Wash hands frequently. Use a cutting board (have several) and change them when working with meat, then vegetable or other food items.

He said it is preferable to start preparation work with the vegetables, then cut the meat and always wash the work surface or cutting board after working with raw chicken, turkey or fish. Cooking above 140 degrees kills most bacteria, but leftovers should be reheated to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

All produce should be washed because much of it contains pesticides or residual soil from the fields.

To store leftovers, Bedsworth recommends they be cooled first to room temperature, then refrigerated uncovered until chilled, then wrapped for storage. This method allows the leftovers to last several days.

"For all practical purposes the rule should be three days and out," Bedsworth said. "Many items if properly cooked, chilled and stored will last longer. Most protein items will tend to deteriorate after three days of storage. If it lasts more than three days, next time see if you can cut your recipe back or freeze part of it for future use."

Bedsworth said it is important to use quality products. With cheap products the food will not turn out as good as it would with quality ingredients. He recommends using fresh ingredients as much as possible and keeping things simple.

"And eat out a lot and support our local restaurants," he said and laughed.

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