Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans

Smoked paprika gives these cowboy beans a deep, woodsy flavor, but can you guess the secret ingredient?Summer is for entertaining, and when the crew gathers at my home,  I think about making a BIG pot of beans.  After all, they’re delicious, go with just about anything I dish up, are budget friendly, and usually help me uphold my reputation of putting out the healthiest of spreads! But then I remember the downside,  they take so darn  long to cook and when it’s 90+ degrees outside, I ask myself, “Do I really want to turn on the oven?”   After reading this month’s Recipe Redux theme:

Beat the Heat with the Slow Cooker /Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker   

I’m ready to prepare that pot o’ beans sans the oven, because any recipe that requires a prolonged cooking time has slow cooker potential! My original recipe, requiring 2 1/2 hours of baking time, now sounds promising.    Not only did I tinker  with the cooking method, I also made the recipe vegan using smoked paprika for a smokey taste without bacon.  It’s a little sweet and a little spicy with a secret ingredient that  unifies all the  earthy flavors ; can you guess the  ingredient? (Insert sound of drum roll please.)  A of a mug of black coffee left over from my morning pot. Surprised?

This side is not only delicious and easy to make without heating up the kitchen,  it’s also low in fat, high in protein, high in fiber and delivers 15% DV* of calcium , 25 % DV* iron.

Get out your slow cookers today and discover more ideas from my colleagues in the links below for delicious, healthy recipes to beat the heat.

*Daily Value based on a 2000 calorie diet.


Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans

Slow cooker cowboy beans are appropriate for vegans and are nice  addition to a summer meal.

  • Author: Diane Boyd
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 6 hours
  • Total Time: 6 hours + 10 minutes
  • Yield: 12 1x


  • 1 pound dried pinto or navy beans, washed and picked clean of debris
  • 10 cups water, divided
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup strong coffee
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoons brown mustard
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce+2 tablespoons
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • dash of hot sauce
  • ground black pepper


1. Soak beans in 6 cups of water overnight. Drain beans.

2. In a Dutchoven add oil and stir in onions ; cook over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes until beginning to brown. Add garlic, and cook for 30 additional minutes.

3. Add beans,water, coffee, . Bring to simmer over high heat and cook for 10 minutes. Add brown sugar, mustard , 1/2 cup barbecue sauce, hot sauce and salt. Return to boil over high heat.

4. Remove from heat and pour contents of Dutch oven into a slow cooker. Cook on high for 6 hours. Add smoked paprika last 30 minutes of cooking. Before serving stir in remaining barbecue sauce, season to taste with black pepper. (Beans can be refrigerator in an airtight container for several days.)


  • Serving Size: 1/4 cup
  • Calories: 200
  • Sugar: 13 grams
  • Sodium: 570 mg
  • Fat: 3 grams
  • Saturated Fat: 0
  • Unsaturated Fat: 3 grams
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 35 grams
  • Fiber: 6 grams
  • Protein: 9 grams
  • Cholesterol: 0



Mediterranean Calzones

California Ripe Olives are an essential part of the Mediterranean diet and are also a flavorful addition to traditional foods from other cuisines, like these  veggie packed pizza pockets . Mediterranean Calzones are filled with a ratatouille made in the slow cooker.

Disclosure: I received free samples of California Ripe Olives mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by California Ripe Olives and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

It’s no secret, the Mediterranean diet is recognized as one of the healthiest ways to feed yourself and your family. I highly recommend this lifestyle because of its diverse foods and flavors and the fact that there’s  no calorie counting! I follow to the principles myself  and enjoy a myriad of foods including : fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grains, nuts, legumes, fresh fish and seafood, lean meats, cheese and yogurt, red wine, and California ripe Olives! I savor olives for their flavor, color and texture! But I include them in my diet for a reason beyond taste; they’re a source of monounsaturated fat. This is the fat that’s associated with increased longevity, reduced risk of heart disease, reduced risk of chronic disease, lower blood pressure and improved brain function.

For the most part, I eat according to the seasons. When it comes to California olives, I enjoy ’em year round because they’re packaged at their peak to preserve nutrients. A serving of olives is trans fat free, contains no cholesterol and provides : fiber (0.5 gram per serving), vitamin E (0.25mg per serving), vitamin A (60IU per serving), iron ( 0.49 mg per serving) and plant powered polyphenols.

Today I am  highlighting California Ripe Olives in a unique and tasty recipe that integrates whole grains, fresh vegetables, red wine, cheese, and garden herbs  into  a time-honored Italian meal: Mediterranean Calzones

the calzone. A slow cooker is used to make a quintessential Mediterranean ratatouille that fills the ‘hot pockets’ and is also spooned over the oven browned crust after baking. It makes a terrific dinner and  reheats for an easy lunch.

California Ripe Olives are one of the most versatile items you’ll keep  in your pantry. Be sure to check out the bottom of this post for more ways to enjoy ’em in a healthy diet.

Mediterranean Calzones

(serves 8)

by Diane Boyd


  • Cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium green pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 medium sweet onion, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium American globe Eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 medium yellow squash, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 – 3 medium tomatoes, seeded and quartered
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup Shiraz or other fruity red wine
  • 1/4 cup roughy chopped fresh basil + additional for garnish
  • 5 springs fresh oregano
  • 1/2 cup California black ripe olives, sliced
  • 1 1/2 pounds refrigerated whole wheat pizza dough
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 12 ounces part- skim mozzarella cheese shredded (about 3 cups)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil


1. Spray slow cooker with cooking spray.

2. Add olive oil to 10 inch saute pan. Heat over medium heat ; when hot add pepper, onions,  and garlic. Saute until vegetables until softened, about 8 minutes.

3. Place eggplant and squash into the bottom of slow cooker. Add tomatoes, and sautéed vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Pour wine over top.

4. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours adding fresh herbs and sliced olives during the last 15 minutes of cooking.

5. Allow the dough to stand covered, at room temperature, for one hour.

6. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

7. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and sprinkled with cornmeal. Divide dough into 8 equal portions. Roll each portion into a 6-inch round on a lightly floured surface. Top each round with 2 -3 Tablespoons ratatouille, leaving a 1/2 inch border. Top rounds evenly with cheese; fold dough over, and crimp edges with a fork to seal.

8. Arrange calzones on prepared baking sheets. Brush tops with olive oil. Bake at 450 degrees F for 25 minutes. Serve each calzone with additional ratatouille and fresh basil.

Tip: To reheat calzones stored in the refrigerator, microwave in one minute-bursts on high, until heated through (2-3 minutes total) or in the oven/toaster oven at 300 degrees F until heated through.

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