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Healthy Power Muffins (Gluten-Free and Vegan)

Alisa Fleming ~ For years I’ve been attempting to replicate the Power Muffins of the former Capers grocery stores in Vancouver B.C. Those very dense muffins were an entire meal, and an indulgence that Tony and I enjoyed once a week with a big mug of hot tea after a leisurely walk. When Whole Foods took them over, they attempted to keep the power muffin legacy, but their version just didn’t measure up. The healthy gluten-free muffin recipe below is by no means identical to those original power muffins (which were made with spelt flour and quite a bit of oil!), but they truly reminded me of them and gave that same comfort food feeling.

Vegan Power Muffins - Healthy Gluten-Free Muffin Recipe

Unlike the original power muffins, this is a vegan (egg-free!) and gluten-free muffin recipe (made with buckwheat flour instead of spelt) that has less oil and less added sweetener, so they can be enjoyed nearly every day, rather than as an occasional indulgence.

However, there are a few special ingredients that make this dairy-free and gluten-free muffin recipe reminiscent of power muffins past. First are the shelled hemp seeds (I use the Hemp Hearts from Manitoba Harvest). These little morsels are a textural delight. If you don’t have any hemp hearts on hand, the muffins will still be good, but not quite as powerful. Second is my husband’s favorite ingredient, dark chocolate chunks. And finally, the hearty whole grains. I was actually a bit surprised at how the buckwheat almost mimicked the earthy flavor of spelt, but sans gluten.

Beyond breakfast, we’ve found these vegan power muffins to be a great portable snack. They go well in lunch boxes or supply packs for a day out hiking or on the ski slopes. I’ve included a few notes on how to adapt these muffins, if desired, but we love them as is. Enjoy!

Vegan Power Muffins - Healthy Gluten-Free Muffin Recipe

5 from 1 reviews

Healthy Gluten-Free Power Muffins
Prep time

Cook time

Total time


These are very hearty muffins, just the way we like them. If you prefer healthy muffins that are a touch lighter, and you aren’t vegan or allergic to eggs, you can blend in 1 large egg with the wet ingredients. But truthfully, we prefer the egg-free version. For us, wholesome and hearty is what usually hits the spot!
Serves: 9 hearty muffins

  • 1-1/4 cups buckwheat flour
  • ¼ cup tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda (1/4 teaspoon above 3000 feet)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/3 cups mashed banana (3 to 4 bananas)
  • ¼ cup coconut oil (or your favorite baking oil)
  • ¼ cup honey or maple syrup (for vegan) (see notes)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup Hemp Hearts (shelled hemp seeds)
  • ⅓ cup chopped dairy-free dark chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate chips, cacao nibs, or a combination (we’ve liked all three!)

  1. Preheat your oven to 375ºF and grease or line 9 muffin cups (unless you are using silicone muffin cups; they work best ungreased).
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the buckwheat, tapioca, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a mixing bowl, blend the banana, oil, honey or maple syrup, and vanilla until relatively smooth with just some small banana lumps remaining.
  4. Fold the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, stirring until just combined.
  5. Stir in the hemp seeds and chocolate.
  6. Divide the batter between the 9 muffin cups, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until slightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean (well, aside from possible a little melted chocolate!).
  7. Serve with hot tea or pack along in lunch boxes.

We use just ¼ cup honey in this recipe, which makes them just sweet enough, and not too sweet for enjoying in the morning. If you like muffins a touch sweeter then you can increase the honey or maple syrup to ⅓ cup.

About Alisa Fleming

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Senior Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

View all posts by Alisa Fleming →

Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living


  1. Hallie @ Daily BitesSeptember 4, 2012 at 8:11 amReply

    Love the look of this recipe, Alisa! I can imagine that they have a great banana flavor. :)

    • Alisa FlemingSeptember 4, 2012 at 8:49 amReplyAuthor

      Thanks Hallie. Surprisingly, they aren’t too banana-y. The hearty flavors really combine well, and the banana taste is quite mellow. I don’t even think Tony realized they had banana in them at first.

  2. Karen LindsaySeptember 4, 2012 at 8:38 amReply

    These sound delicious, I just wish they didn’t include bananas. Banana’s are a bad migraine trigger for my daughter. Any ideas for a replacement?

    • Alisa FlemingSeptember 4, 2012 at 8:47 amReplyAuthor

      Hi Karen, can she do dates? Date puree would work great, too! Simply soak some pitted dates in warm water to soften. Puree with some of the soaking water for 1-1/3 cups of the puree. You will want to use enough water to give the dates a close consistency to mashed bananas.

  3. MelissaSeptember 4, 2012 at 9:09 amReply

    This is my kind of muffin! Love the idea of mixing healthy, gluten-free, and power into one tasty treat. Thanks for the recipe!

  4. Alyssa | Queen of QuinoaSeptember 4, 2012 at 10:04 amReply

    These muffins look awesome, Alisa! I think the buckwheat and banana combo sounds awesome. Do you think could use any sort of small seed in place of the hemp hearts? I have flax seeds on hand and wonder if they would work.

    • Alisa FlemingSeptember 4, 2012 at 10:10 amReplyAuthor

      Yes, any type of seed should work well! You may want to toast the flaxseeds to make them a little more “crunchable.” Hemp seeds are definitely softer than flaxseeds so even though they are tiny, they can be chewed and more easily digested. Sunflower seeds should work well too, or you can even go a different route and add dried fruit or omit the add-ins altogether for a simpler muffin.

  5. RosieSeptember 4, 2012 at 12:20 pmReply

    This recipe is indeed awsome! I tried baking it with my kids and we had fun and of course they loved it! They even asked for more.

  6. Shirley @ gfeSeptember 4, 2012 at 1:35 pmReply

    Alisa, these muffins look fantastic! Love the addition of the hemp hearts. :-)


  7. MaggieSeptember 4, 2012 at 4:04 pmReply

    Alisa I’ve always loved your muffins recipes, but now I know we’re muffin soul sisters :) I used to live in Vancouver and shop (and eat muffins) at Capers! I will be making these, love the chocolate chunks! Oh my goodness!

  8. KellySeptember 5, 2012 at 5:37 amReply

    WOW! These muffins are packed full of good stuff! I love that these are gluten-free AND vegan! (….and you added in chocolate….which what muffin is perfect without chocolate?!?! ;) ) I will be trying this recipe soon. Also I shared it on FB! Well done Alisa! I look forward to reading more of your blog.

  9. RickiSeptember 5, 2012 at 7:34 pmReply

    These sound perfect!! I’ve been loving hemp hearts in just about everything these days–sure these would be no exception!

  10. CaraSeptember 6, 2012 at 12:28 pmReply

    yum! I haven’t done much baking with buckwheat but I trust your assessment :) I might have to try a version of these with pumpkin in place of banana!

    • Alisa FlemingSeptember 7, 2012 at 5:08 pmReplyAuthor

      That should be good! They may be a little crumbly though – pumpkin doesn’t tend to bind as well as banana.

  11. Julie zicklerSeptember 7, 2012 at 1:19 pmReply

    Thank you!!!!! I loved these muffins and would buy them often at caper’s. I have missed them and healthy muffins in general since going gluten free. I will definitely be trying these, thanks again!!! What about even more protein, could you add protein powder?

    • Alisa FlemingSeptember 7, 2012 at 5:07 pmReplyAuthor

      Hi Julie, I couldn’t say for sure without testing it, especially since all protein powders are quite different. Rice protein powders tend to dry baked goods out and change the texture quite a bit, while hemp protein powder might act a little more like ground flaxseed. If you do use eggs, egg white protein powder typically works the best in baking.

  12. JenniferSeptember 13, 2012 at 11:03 amReply

    Alisa I’m wondering if i could use chopped nuts instead of hemp seeds..

    • Alisa FlemingSeptember 13, 2012 at 11:13 amReplyAuthor

      Defintely! Nuts would work great, too. You can even omit them if you prefer not to have any “crunchy” items in muffins.

  13. MARYSeptember 13, 2012 at 1:03 pmReply

    are they dense or fluffy?

    • Alisa FlemingSeptember 13, 2012 at 1:15 pmReplyAuthor

      Hi Mary, see my notes in the recipe! They are definitely hearty – dense and rich, but not doorstops. If you want a fluffier result, you can add eggs (regular or Ener-G for egg-free), though I would increase the sweetener a bit since you would be adding more volume.

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  16. ShawnaFebruary 13, 2013 at 4:52 amReply

    These are amazing! My chidren love them!
    Instead of banana I’ve also made them with pumpkin puree and even mashed sweet potato!
    I’ve also replaced hemp hearts with lightly ground pupmkin seeds…they are always delicious! I love how I can change them up so much and have different muffins for my girls from the same recipe!
    This is now my go to recipe!
    Thanks so much!!! x

  17. ToshaMarch 4, 2013 at 2:35 pmReply

    These muffins are delicious! I’ve made them many times for myself and I made a batch for my mom and she also loved them! Great recipe!

  18. RhondaApril 30, 2013 at 3:26 pmReply

    Could you use agave as the sweetener in these?

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  20. LanaJuly 2, 2013 at 7:30 amReply

    Hi Alisa:

    I would love to try these muffins. What is a good replacement for the tapioca flour? I’m not gf, so do not stock these gf ingredients. I also do not use eggs.

    Has anyone tried subbing a flaxmeal goop for the tapioca flour?

    Many thanks

    • Alisa FlemingJuly 2, 2013 at 7:41 amReplyAuthor

      Lana, cornstarch (preferably non-GMO) is the perfect substitute. Flax will be too heavy.

  21. MelissaJuly 15, 2013 at 2:43 pmReply

    This is definitely a winner, Alisa. I love the idea of these power muffins and I’m thinking I have all the ingredients on hand. We’re headed out of town for a very short road trip Wednesday. These will be in our cooler! Thanks. What a great recipe!

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  26. SueOctober 17, 2013 at 12:27 pmReply

    HI Alisa: These look really great. And I agree that Whole Foods has made these muffins too sweet, and overall heavy, so that afterwards one feels sick, rather than empowered!

    One question: I would like to know a good substitute for tapioca, that is not corn starch, which I do not use. Would arrowroot flour work? Or something healthier than that? I’m not averse to using eggs. Also, would apple sauce work as well as bananas/

    thanks, Sue

    • Alisa FlemingOctober 21, 2013 at 11:23 amReplyAuthor

      Hi Sue, in general, any starch (arrowroot, corn or potato) should work in place of the tapioca with slight variation – we just like the tapioca best as it is lighter than cornstarch and less expensive than arrowroot.

      Applesauce “should” work well, but it does tend to be more watery than bananas (and less sweet), so I would keep an eye on the consistency and taste test. I like pureed pumpkin better as an alternative. If you wish to use eggs, you could trial reducing the fruit puree to 1 cup and adding 2 medium to large eggs.

  27. RachelleOctober 31, 2013 at 9:58 pmReply

    BLESS YOU! I needed an allergen-free muffin recipe for my 5 year old free of wheat, dairy, egg and cane sugar and the texture is better than any I’ve found so far. I like the fact that there is a not a super strong banana flavor. I can’t wait to try different variations (swapping in pumpkin puree and pumpkin spice… applesauce…. peach puree… peanut butter and cocoa powder….) For other cook’s reference, I got great results swapping out the hemp hearts for ground flax seed I had on hand and arrowroot powder for the tapioca flour.

    • Alisa FlemingNovember 1, 2013 at 2:38 pmReplyAuthor

      Yay! Glad my recipe has been so wonderful for you! I appreciate you sharing your modifications and hope that you equally enjoy those flavor variations!

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  29. TatyanaDecember 10, 2013 at 8:09 pmReply

    Surprisingly good even without the chocolate! Made 12 regular size muffins. Thanks!

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  34. SarahDecember 3, 2014 at 7:54 amReply

    Hi there

    Great recipe, the very first that stands up to gluten-containing cakes that I’ve tried.

    One question, if using nibs, do I grind down completely, partially or leave whole?


    • Alisa FlemingDecember 5, 2014 at 8:19 amReplyAuthor

      I use them whole – depends on if you like the crunch!

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