How to make sweet potato hash. Here’s a recipe from ‘Southern foodie’

North Carolina is sweet potato country.

As the number one producer in the United States, more than 40% of the country’s sweet potatoes come from North Carolina, where the root vegetables thrive in the warm climate and loamy soil. For one Greensboro transplant who now resides in Tempe, the holidays don’t taste like home without them.

Toya Collins, a former professional dancer who now makes bags for a living, said she didn’t really see pumpkin pies until moving to Arizona in 2016. Her family in North Carolina is just “nuts about sweet potatoes,” she said. Come Thanksgiving and Christmas, her dad can be found in the kitchen making sweet potato pies, candied yams, casserole and her personal favorite, cheesecake.

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Toya Collins of Bagelfeld's Bagels stands with a fresh-from-the-oven sweet potato country sausage hash in her home kitchen in Tempe on Dec.  6, 2021.

A new home and new traditions

While living in Greensboro, Collins worked as a choreographer and spent years dancing ballet, tap and hip hop. Growing up, she and her younger brother trained together and they used to perform a duet every year. One of her proudest moments was in 2016 when they won a choreography award at the StarLand dance competition in Lexington, North Carolina.

Collins said she moved to Arizona for a change of scenery.

After she started feeling burnt out in dance, Collins decided to try other jobs before landing her gig as a baker at Bagelfeld’s, a Phoenix bagel shop. She also started a hobby Instagram page for her home kitchen creations, @tcsyumcity, where the self-described “Southern Foodie” shares her experiments with baked treats like her mini sweet potato cheesecakes.

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