The Healing Kitchen
A Scotts Corners shop born of necessity
Step inside Healing Home Foods in Scotts Corners, and you’re likely to run into someone you know. In the storefront, you’ll find bicyclists hydrating with cold-pressed juices and parents stocking up on gluten-free granola, crackers, almond milk, and hummus. Through the plate-glass window, you may spy a dozen passionate mothers from Bedford and Pound Ridge who pitch in with everything from bookkeeping to mixing up vegan avocado-chocolate pudding. And, chances are, you’ll also meet John Schulz, the irrepressibly-friendly, chief cheerleader and helpmate to his wife, the founder of HHF, Shelley Schulz. John handles customer service by sharing not only everything you need to know about HHF products but also by handing out free, warm samples of almond butter cookies—or just about anything else you’d like to try.
You’ll only meet Shelley out front if she happens to be in transit to or from the company’s office down the street or a local farmer’s market where she’s been handpicking arugula and tomatoes. The 40-something mother of two miraculously works behind the scenes to bring healthy foods to the gluten-free and vegan marketplace. It’s a big job—researching, testing, buying and mixing the fresh, seasonal ingredients, then dehydrating or baking and finally packaging the products for sale. And, it’s a job she loves.
After a successful run as a hedge fund analyst on Wall Street, Shelley decided to devote herself full-time to motherhood when she was expecting her first child, Jackson, now 11. When her son arrived two weeks after his due date, it was immediately clear that he was in a fragile state, yet he was not diagnosed with Autism for a full three years. By then, Shelley was feeding him and his baby sister, Katie, a healthy, homemade diet that included a lot of organic milk as well as organic, whole grains. Intrigued by what she was hearing about how a change in diet could help children with Autism, she made some calls and was eventually connected with Judy Chinitz, a Certified Nutritional Consultant and Autism advocate based in Chappaqua.
“When Judy called me back, I told her what I was feeding my kids for lunch that day, and she said, ‘Three of those things are the most highly allergenic foods you can give them,” Shelley recalls. Under Judy’s guidance, she quickly removed dairy from Jackson’s diet and witnessed immediate results. “He had been chugging at least three glasses of milk each day for most of his life, and within three days of going cold-turkey, he was calmer and making more eye contact,” she says. The next major change was removing gluten from the family diet. Shelley researched ingredients and made every morsel of food that went into the children’s bodies herself. “It was exhausting, but it was something I could control, and little by little, Jackson was getting better,” she continues. Then, in the midst of the upward swing, John was diagnosed with cancer. “I was still learning about things that contribute to Autism, and now John was sick, so I needed to learn about what to cook for him, too.”
Luckily, John’s cancer was very treatable, and he returned to work after a short time off for treatment. With Jackson and Katie in school, Shelley decided to convert her personal passion to a business and had her home kitchen certified for commercial use. “Healing Home Foods started out of necessity; I needed to help my son get well. Because he did get better, I was able to expand it to help others, too,” Shelley explains. HHF initially sold its granolas and crackers only at farmers markets in order to test products and gather feedback, but when inventory sold out faster than she could produce the next batch, staff was hired, the production was moved to Scotts Corners, and specialty retailers, like Erica’s Kitchen in Bedford, began to carry her products.
“Even now, I spend a lot of the time at markets speaking with people about dietary restrictions and how our products can help,” she explains. “When someone comes up and gives me a hug and thanks me because our products have made a big difference to their own wellbeing, nothing could give me more motivation to continue to work hard every day. I don’t want to let anyone down.”