When considering a beautifying bang for your buck, think legumes. A class of vegetables that are the fruits and seeds of leguminous plants, legumes can be one of the best and most affordable beauty foods to include in a healthy diet.MORE: 15 Ways to Eat Healthy on a BudgetThey are versatile, nutritious, low in fat and contain no cholesterol. What’s more, they’re high in fiber, folate, potassium, iron, magnesium and protein. Studies show that a diet rich in legumes may not only reduce the risk of certain cancers, heart disease and diabetes, but legumes, such as soy, can also improve the appearance of hair, skin and nails.Not big on beans? Chances are, you haven’t tried them all. About 400 varieties of beans are grown and harvested around the world. The French use beans in cassoulet, Italians have pasta fagioli and ribollita, Mexicans have frijoles refritos or refried beans and American Indians combined beans with corn for the first version of what we know as succotash.Beans Beyond DinnerInstead of reaching for a muffin or bagel at breakfast, legumes are an easy way to get a high-protein start to the day that will not only keep you energized until noon, but also provide long lasting beautifying nutrients.I love to add black beans to an egg white frittata along with sweet potato, onion, chives, spinach and turmeric. You can use hummus as spreads for vegetable wraps, sandwiches or warm it up and use as a dip with toasted 100 percent whole wheat pita bread for a quick, fast and filling breakfast or lunch.To save you time in the morning, cook beans in batches ahead of time and reheat them all week, or use canned beans with no added sodium. If beans have added salt, just rinse well to minimize sodium.MORE: 10 Healthy Brown Bag LunchesBean BasicsWhen using dried legumes, always sort through them in case a stone or debris fell through the sorting screen. Then pre-soak the beans, which will help them cook faster and more evenly. Discard the soaking water if you want to minimize the gassiness factor from the dissolved indigestible sugars. Also, add any acidic foods after beans are tende. High acid ingredients such as tomato products, wine and chili sauce can keep beans from softening. When are beans cooked? The best way to tell is to taste them; they should be creamy throughout.At less then a dollar for a one cup serving—much less than high-priced fellow proteins such as meat and fish—the following Edamame and Cannellini Bean Salad recipe is a low cost way to look beautiful. This salad is also a great way to create a healthy, inexpensive lunch that’s filling and nourishing.Edamame and Cannellini Bean Salad recipe

  • 3 cups rinsed and drained Cannellini beans
  • 3 cups edamame
  • 1 ¼ cup small diced celery
  • ½ cup fine diced onion
  • ½ cup each of seeded and fine diced green, yellow and red peppers
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 4 teaspoons agave nectar
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon fresh
  • fine chop garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoon fresh chop parsley
  • 2 tablespoon chiffonade of fresh basil

Combine all ingredients and mix well. This salad goes well with pasta or rice and easily keeps for three days. The recipe makes 8 one-cup servings. Not bad for $1 a serving!MORE: Recipes for Beautiful Skin