Creative mom uses breakfast art to get daughter to try healthy, balanced foods

Writer:   |  Editor: Zhang Chanwen  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2023-03-23

Parents are known for going above and beyond to ensure their children’s well-being and one mom in Shenzhen has taken this to heart in a unique way.

Zhu Xiaoyu, a graphic designer, has been using food ingredients to create cute and playful designs on her daughter’s plates to get her to eat a healthy and balanced breakfast since 2019. She has so far created over 460 breakfast art designs featuring everything from animals and the Monkey King to local landmarks like the “Bay Glory” Ferris wheel.

A breakfast art design featured “Bay Glory” Ferris wheel. Photos courtesy of Zhu Xiaoyu

Zhu never thought that her artistic skills would be showcased on breakfast plates until her daughter developed a picky eating habit due to an allergy to protein. “I had no choice but to cook for her, hoping to get her to try different types of food through visually appealing food presentations,” she said.

For her first breakfast creation, she made a heart out of pomegranate seeds alongside a half-cut boiled egg and a few cucumber slices.

Zhu Xiaoyu

Despite her years of experience as a graphic designer, she initially struggled to arrange the plates to her satisfaction. “When I was trying to be creative with the food presentation for the first time, I was under a lot of pressure. I wanted to impress, but I couldn’t seem to be able to create anything that looked good. In the end, I settled for a heart shape,” Zhu recalled.

After some experimentation, she realized that planning out her breakfast art, just like designing anything else, requires “a clear sketch.”

Zhu uses fresh, healthy ingredients to make sure that her daughter’s breakfast plates are as nutritious as they are beautiful. “When preparing breakfast, I prioritize three main types of nutrients: carbohydrates, vitamins and protein,” she was quoted telling Shenzhen Evening News. “I pay close attention to creating a balanced diet.”

A breakfast plate featuring food looking like the Monkey King. Photo courtesy of Zhu Xiaoyu

As Zhu continues to experiment with new ingredients and designs, she also starts to incorporate Shenzhen landmarks into her breakfast art. The Civic Center and the “Bay Glory” Ferris wheel are two of the inspirations for her stunning creations, according to the News report.

Zhu said making breakfast art is a way for her to show her daughter how much she loves and cares for her, and her daughter now looks forward to it every morning.

“I am a strict mother. Even though my daughter is now in fourth grade, I still criticize her harshly if she does something wrong,” she said. “I hope that through the carefully prepared breakfast, she will know that I love her.”

A breakfast art design by Zhu Xiaoyu.

Having spent four years “expressing her love for her daughter,” Zhu is still troubled by her daughter’s picky eating habit. The graphic designer said her daughter especially dislikes seafood.

Zhu once ground the shrimp skin into powder and added it to the dumpling filling. Her child took a bite and immediately spat it out before opening all the dumplings trying to find traces of the shrimp. The child ended up refusing to eat the dumplings.

To Zhu’s delight and surprise, her daughter has started to accept lean meat after repeated attempts. “Every time I see my child willing to try a new ingredient, or willing to try something she didn’t like before, it makes me feel that all my efforts are worth it,” Zhu said.

Zhu said that she will continue to create artistic breakfasts for her daughter as a way of expressing her love both for the girl and for Shenzhen, where she has lived for nearly 15 years.