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In the summer of 2016, Coca-Cola sales executive Denise Woodard went grocery shopping in New York City. “My husband and I found out that our young daughter had all these complicated food allergies, so I sought out delicious and safe treats for her to enjoy,” she explains.

She left empty-handed. Except for a life-changing idea, that is.

Woodard is now the founder and CEO of Partake Foods, a line of cookies and baking mixes known for its vegan, allergen-free ingredients. (Think wheat, eggs, soy, dairy and peanuts.) “People can enjoy the products and share them safely,” she says. “They also taste good.”

And yes, she really did create the idea from scratch. Woodard first concocted the recipes in her Manhattan kitchen and then sold three flavors of cookies out of the back of her car. “I tried to raise seed funding, but I got nearly 100 ‘no’s,” she says. She finally received a yes in 2019 via the Jay-Z co-funded Marcy Venture Partners, which helped her scale the business.

Woodard notes that the products are currently sold in about 10,000 stores, including Target, Kroger, Wal-Mart and Whole Foods as well as Amazon. “It’s crazy to see something that we dreamt in our kitchen actually be in a box on store shelves,” she says.

The daughter of a Korean mom and Black dad, Woodard is also a founder-in-residence of Target’s Forward Founders program, which helps get women-led and other diverse businesses ready for retail. “Black founders are still raising only 1% of venture capital and Black women raise less than half of that, so that adds fuel to my fire,” she says. “I do feel like I have a responsibility to mentor others on their journey.”

To that end, Woodard makes a point to stock her pantry with items from small family and minority-owned businesses. “We’re in an apartment, and I have to be super selective because of the small space,” she says. “I want to make sure I’m voting with my dollars with brands I believe in.” She opens her cabinet for CNN Underscored.

Just add water and breakfast is served. “My daughter eats it almost every morning,” she says of the vegan and gluten-free product. “I like that I’m making her something really hearty but doesn’t take up too much time and work on my end.” She adds that the mix can also be used for cake, banana bread and other baked goods: “You can make five different things really easily. It’s super versatile.”

Woodard loves Brightland’s Alive flavor so much that she relies on a subscription service to receive two bottles every two months. “I use it every day and put it on salad dressing, bread and roasted veggies and protein,” she says. “The product is of phenomenal quality.” Indeed, the olives are sourced from family farms in California’s Central Coast and then cold-pressed by a nearby miller for freshness and flavor. (BTW, a four-flavor set is available on Amazon.)

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She’s ready to spill the beans on one of her favorites. “You put it in a microwave or on a stovetop and then use it as a main dish or a side,” Woodard says. “It’s really easy to prepare for my whole family because of all our dietary restrictions.” (The product is non-GMO, non-MSG and gluten-free.) She also raves about its “simple” ingredients, as the classic recipe consists of onion, garlic, bell peppers and avocado oil with a blend of spices.

No Taco Tuesday at her household would be complete without it. Because of her daughter’s food allergies and her husband’s gluten and dairy-free restrictions, “I just want to find normal things that taste good,” she says. “This fits the bill.” The primary ingredients: Cassava-grain flour, pumpkin and avocado oil.

Don’t pass on the salt: Woodard says this product — based in the UK since 1882 — is extra tasty because of its large flake-like crystals. “I never thought the shape of your salt would make such a big difference as a topping,” she says. “But I like the little crunchy texture.” She sifts it on everything from chocolate chip cookies to a roasted vegetable dish.

“I grew up eating rice for every single meal and love it,” she says. “It’s part of my culture.” She singles out this Japanese-style short grain because it’s USDA-certified organic. Given its carb content, she tosses it in as a side dish to complement roasted chicken, vegetables stews and soups — and if her mother were close by, she’d pair it with scallion pancakes and kimchi toast too: “She’s better at cooking Korean breakfasts than I am!”

Related: 50 pantry storage ideas that will help you save time and space in the kitchen

We’ve now reached the obligatory hot sauce portion of Woodard’s pantry. “I love to spice it up and use this every day!” she says of the Charleston, South Carolina-based product, which is made of sweet mild Fresno chili peppers, barrel-aged French white wine vinegar, water, salt, fermented rice flour and culture. Woodard pours it on Mexican and Asian-inspired dishes, raving, “The flavor is just so on point!”

Could it be? A gluten-free pasta that tastes great?! Woodard insists the answer is yes. “I was attracted to the packaging in the grocery store because it comes in a super-bright orange box — and it ended up being delicious,” she says. “My daughter honestly loves it and we’ve been customers for years.” she says. The noodles, she explains, are made of protein and fiber-enriched chickpeas instead of wheat flour. For dinners, she’ll sprinkle in marinara sauce, garlic and olive oil.

Woodard boasts that in a blind taste test, these treats — made from a gluten-free flour blend, Fair Trade cane sugar, sunflower oil, oats, vanilla and semisweet chocolate chips — came out on top against a leading cookie competitor: “We beat them across the board.” In fact, “We find that a good portion of our consumers don’t have food allergies, so they just choose our product because of the taste.” Not surprisingly, she always keeps them on hand. “I’m known as the cookie lady at my daughter’s school,” she says. “My daughter doesn’t think it’s cool, but her friends do!”