Cars-Themed Recipe: Step on the Gas Baked Beans

One of the most popular cooking class series that we teach is called Recipes from Books and Movies.  In honor of my friend Amy, who recently came to town compliments of Bush’s Beans, I thought I’d share this class favorite.


Step on the Gas Baked Beans
Found in The Whole Family Cookbook, by Michelle Stern

Almost every time I make beans with my students or my own children, they launch into the catchy tune, “beans, beans, the musical fruit…”  You know the rest, I am sure.  But you may not know what makes beans actually act as a “musical” food, causing fragrant bursts from the hineys of our otherwise respectful children.

Beans and other gassy foods contain sugar molecules that don’t get broken down small enough to be digested.  Our bodies don’t have enzymes (chemicals that break down molecules) to break them into manageable sized pieces.  So the bacteria that live in your large intestines step in and chow down.  Unfortunately for us, the bacteria releases gas as they break down their supper – and it escapes through the only opening available in your digestive tract.  Yes, the one down there.  Stop blaming the dog.


2 Tbs olive oil
1 medium-size yellow onion, diced as small as you can
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup light molasses (not blackstrap)
2 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 bay leaf
2 (15 ounce) cans small white beans (drained and rinsed)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. Preheat a medium-size oven-safe pot over medium heat. Sauté the onions in the oil for about 10 minutes, until they are browned (but not burned)
  3. Add the garlic and sauté for one more minute. Add the tomato sauce, molasses, mustard, salt, allspice, and bay leaf, and cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the beans, then cover the pot and transfer it to the oven for an hour. Give it a stir just once, about 30 minutes into the baking process. The sauce should thicken and sweetened.
  5. Keep warm until ready to serve.


  • If you have a food chopper, children of all ages can help you chop the onions.
  • Or, if you don’t mind the dirty dishes, you can have toddlers press the button of your food processor as you PULSE the onions into small pieces.
  • Older kids can use a knife, with supervision.
  • Measure molasses, dried spices
  • Drain the beans in a colander over the sink, and rinse thoroughly
  • Older children can open the can of tomato sauce.
  • Pour the sauce into the pot


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3 Responses to Cars-Themed Recipe: Step on the Gas Baked Beans

  1. Ha ha! Boys especially love “the musical fruit”.

  2. Beans recipes are not common. If you have them, they are the usually sauce based types but this recipe presents a unique and quite pleasant variety with yellow onion and molasses. Few know that molasses is a highly nutritional ingredient for home cooking and that it can be classified as a condiment. Good work.

  3. Can’t wait to share this with all my gassy friends. I always thought it had something to do with how much you chew your food.

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