The other night I made a "healthy" Butternut squash barley risotto from Good Housekeeping Magazine. I would be lying if I said it was the best thing I ever ate, but it was definitely good enough for a weeknight dinner. Considering that it was basically whole grains and vegetables, it was not half bad. In the past, I've made barley risotto on the stove-top and found that all the extra broth in the world could not soften the barley's extra-chewy texture. In comparison, this slow-cooker version is definitely softer and creamier, but I have decided that barley can never really replace the pure deliciousness of a good Arborio. However, if you're looking for a healthier version or just want to try something different, give this one a go.
On the other hand, if you want to keep the convenience of the slow-cooker, but still make a risotto with Arborio rice, I highly recommend Camilla Saulsbury's recipe for No-Stir Sundried Tomato Risotto from her blog, Enlightened Cooking. This is a tried-and-true favorite recipe of mine. It's not quite the same as making a stove-top risotto, but it's close enough for me, and very, very delicious. (In my slow cooker, it is always done at the lower end of the suggested cooking time, 2 hours.)