Consumers love choice, but when Li Mei decided to leave her information-technology job and open a cafe in Shenzhen, she took the opposite approach. The 27-year-old mother of one serves only breakfast to her rushed patrons, and an unusual one at that. Her customers pay 1,280 yuan (HK$1,460) for a 30-day package. She talks about health food and the mainland's growing middle class. What kind of breakfasts do you serve? We offer only one set menu between 7am and 11am. It doesn't list any food but has three beverages: aloe vera juice, strawberry milkshake with protein powder and a herbal drink with green and red tea concentrates. Most people say they don't feel hungry after they finish the three drinks, which are about 300ml each. They contain high levels of protein, fibre and the necessary vitamins but are very low in calories. The three beverages can help to neutralise the bad effects of fatty foods on your cardiovascular system and also aid digestion. Many of my middle-class clients and former colleagues from the IT business are overweight owing to a lack of exercise and constipated because they do not get enough fibre in their diet. They are forced to eat out every day either because of business or they're pressed for time. Our bodies are designed to make us want food that has been cooked and food with lots of calories such as red meat. But such a diet is not healthy and can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, gallstones, type two diabetes, osteoarthritis and cancer. How do you persuade people to pay 1,280 yuan a month for breakfast? It's very hard, especially when food is generally very cheap in China and many people aren't aware of what constitutes a healthy diet. I still remember a grandmother who passed my cafe one morning and said that was the most expensive breakfast she has ever seen in her life. She said three yuan could buy her a great breakfast of a boiled egg with a steamed bun and a glass of soy milk. Many people won't think twice when spending 42 yuan on a lunch or dinner, but they all believe it's too much to pay for a breakfast that consists of only beverages. But nutritionists tell us that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. So I bought a machine that measures body fat and provides free calculations to potential customers, especially those who want to manage their weight. Those with too high a percentage of fat can track their weight loss - once they change to a healthy diet - using the machine. The results are usually noticeable after about two months. Can you make a profit by operating only four hours a day? Yes. I now have about 20 regular customers a day from nearby affluent communities. The income offsets rent, power and water bills. I'm also planning to hire two more employees so we can offer a set lunch and dinner in the future. The job is enjoyable as I help busy white-collar workers learn about eating well. It also leaves me with plenty of time to look after my two-year-old son. We didn't expect the cafe to make a profit at first, but things have worked out after 18 months. One of my customers plans to open a similar breakfast cafe in her own community. What kind of people visit your cafe? We have a variety of customers - from the elderly, overweight teenagers and their parents, housewives and businessmen to government employees. But people who need to manage their weight are our target customers. It's not difficult to make the beverages at home with a mixer and the right ingredients. But people who want to save time in the morning prefer to come to our cafe. Why have you turned your focus to nutrition? My mother died of a heart attack in 2008 after she was stranded at a train station when that huge snow storm hit the country and left half a million people trapped. Doctors said the combination of the cold weather, her excessive weight and high cholesterol level contributed to her death. So I started to eat nutraceutical food, or food that provides specific health and medical benefits, after I gave birth to my child two years ago. I have discovered that the market for nutritional products on the mainland is growing by double digits. As the middle class expands, many of them are seeking healthy foods that benefit the heart, digestion, the brain and the immune system. According to the China Health Care Association, the annual output of nutraceutical and functional food - or food that has biologically active substances such as phytochemicals or other antioxidants added to it - on the mainland is now worth 100 billion yuan a year, with 1,640 manufacturers. That's a big market.