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With their creamy texture and fast, fast cooking time, lentils can be a distinctive answer for a time-pressed cook.

This chicken-lentil chili can be made with 2 cups of canned, mixed beans, such as black-eyed peas, butter beans or garbanzo beans, in place of the lentils. Be sure to rinse and drain the beans well.

If you use lentils, be sure to rinse them and pick out any small stones that might be hiding in the lentils.

You also can add sliced carrots during cooking for more flavor and texture.

The recipe has about 300 calories.

Chicken-lentil chili

Makes: 8 (1-1/4-cup each) servings

2 cups washed lentils

4 (14.5-oz.) cans fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth

2 (28-oz.) cans no-salt added diced tomatoes (include juice)

2 chopped green bell peppers

2 chopped red or yellow bell peppers

1 chopped onion

2 tbsp. chili powder

2 cloves minced garlic

1 diced green chili or 1 finely diced habanero chili, optional

1 tsp. cumin

Salt and pepper, to taste

5 cups chopped skinless chicken breasts

Optional toppings: 1/4 cup chopped chives, 2 chopped avocadoes, shredded cheese, chopped pitted black olives

Combine chicken broth and lentils in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook, covered, for 30 minutes on low.

Add tomato, peppers, chili powder, garlic, chili pepper and cumin. Then increase heat to medium until the mixture boils.

Return the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes or until the lentils turn tender.

Add salt and pepper to taste and chicken. Stir until well-heated, then serve with toppings.

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